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(Updated to add information about sourcing)
This week, there was no bigger issue in presidential politics than gay marriage. (More on that here.) By definition, any issue this big is a potentially fraught one for politicians and their advisers–and gay marriage probably more so than most. As Mitt Romney put it, it’s a “tender” subject. It’s also one on which public opinion has been rapidly shifting. Saying something dumb or offensive could easily inflame the debate and even change the course of the race. That’s why talking points were invented. Earlier today, one of the top Republican pollsters, Jan van Lohuizen–he was George W. Bush’s pollster–circulated a strategy memo to Republican consultants and politicians that laid out some pretty fascinating numbers on how the American public, and Republicans specifically, feel about gay-rights issues. He also suggests some talking points, which I guarantee you’ll hear echoing around the political world in the coming days and weeks. Here’s a copy of the memo, passed along by a Republican operative:
From: Jan R. van Lohuizen Date: 05/11/12
Re: Same Sex Marriage
Background: in view of this week’s news on the same sex marriage issue, here is a summary of recent survey findings on same sex marriage:
Recommendation: A statement reflecting recent developments on this issue along the following lines:
“People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.”
Other thoughts / Q&A:
Follow up to questions about affirmative action: “This is not about giving anyone extra protections or privileges, this is about making sure that everyone – regardless of sexual orientation – is provided the same protections against discrimination that you and I enjoy.”
Why public attitudes might be changing: “As more people have become aware of friends and family members who are gay, attitudes have begun to shift at an accelerated pace. This is not about a generational shift in attitudes, this is about people changing their thinking as they recognize their friends and family members who are gay or lesbian.”
Conservative fundamentals: “As people who promote personal responsibility, family values, commitment and stability, and emphasize freedom and limited government we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone. This includes the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government.