The GOP has a complicated relationship with the gay rights movement but increasingly Republican consultants are willing to work for or support marriage equality efforts.
In Oregon, GOP consultant Elaine Franklin has helped launch Freedom Oregon with other prominent Republicans. The group is supporting a ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. GOP consultant Dan Lavey, a regional president of Gallatin Public Affairs, along with fundraiser Lori Hardwick are helping raise money to support the initiative.
On the national level, GOP consultants have already shown a willingness to support same-sex marriage. Last February, Republican consultants ranging from up-and-comers such as Patrick Ruffini to established names such as Alex Castellanos, Steve Schmidt and Bob Wickers signed onto a friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court case that successfully challenged California’s Proposition 8.
Bob Moore, an Oregon-based GOP pollster, said supporting gay marriage can be good for a consultant’s bottom line.
“From the consultant’s vantage point, they do business besides candidates. In the business community, there are some definite advantages in being on this side of the issue,” Moore tells C&E. “I don’t think there’s any downside at all, not in this part of the country.”
In fact, the consultants’ support could help GOP operatives get work on marriage initiative campaigns, which they’ve long been shut out of.
“Twenty years ago, before the gay-rights lobby got so heavily organized, Republicans used to do some of this work,” recalls Moore, who worked on an Oregon employment/gay rights ballot measure in the early 1990s. “They were basically shut out by the national gay rights crowd. Democratic consultants had a lock on this business since the mid 1990s.”
For now, though, it’s not likely to lead to lucrative retainers. Moore explains the thinking of the consultants who support the Oregon ballot measure: “I don’t know that they expect to make a lot of money, but they think it’s the right thing to do. If business results, fine, but if it doesn’t, I’m showing not all Republicans are on the anti side of the issue.”