Evangelicals may leave US party over gay marriage

(Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar)Former Arkansas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee addresses supporters during the third session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 29, 2012.

Led by former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, evangelical leaders are sounding the alarm over what they see as a softening stance in the Grand Old Party over same-sex marriage.

The Republican Party's current platform defines marriage as "the union of one man and one woman." 

In March the Republican National Committee (RNC) issued a report which exhorted Republicans to be less vocal over the issue.

This event, along with a statement by Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio which said he was supporting same-sex marriage because he has a gay son, created a stir among evangelicals.

When asked in an interview by  Newsmax.com if the Republican Party might abandon its support for traditonal marriage, Huckabee said,"They might, and if they do they are going to lose a large part of their base because evangelicals will walk."

White evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

They comprise approximately 50 percent of the voters in Republican primaries. 

Huckabee said evangelicals would not leave the Republican party noting, "Nobody's homophobic that I know of, but many of us, and I consider myself included, base our standards not on the latest Washington Post poll, but on an objective standard, not a subjective standard."

Huckabee was governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. In 2008, he ran for president.

He now hosts a show on the Fox News Network.

Gary Bauer, another former presidential candidate, told a  crowd affiliated with the National Organization for Marriage on March 26,"I am a Republican. Let me say to my party: if you bail out on this issue, I will leave the party and I will take as many as I possibly can."

Bauer ran for president in 2000. He served in the Reagan admnistration and was vice-president of Focus on the Family and president of the Family Research Council.

Both organizations strongly influence evangelical opinion concerning social issues in the United States.

In an Email to supporters after the issuance of the RNC report, the current president of the Family Research Council issued an Email to supporters which warned of the consequences of a change in the Republican view.

Tony Perkins said,"If the RNC abandons marriage, evangelicals will either sit the elections out, or move to create a third party."

Other prominent evangelicals have been strongly opposed to a change in the definition of marriage.

Billy Graham supported measures in Minnesota and North Carolina last year which reaffirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman. 

Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson made headlines in December when he implied that the mass shooting at the  Newtown elementary school in Connecticut was the judgment of God.  He appeared to partly blame this judgment on America's attempt to redefine marriage. 

The disagreement over same-sex marriage within the Republican Party may come to a head at a meeting of the RNC in April.

A source within the RNC told Business Insider that there will be a resolution offered there which will ask members to support the current Republican platform on marriage. This resolution will require Republican leaders to go on record over the issue. 

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