The RNC Chairman Is Really Confused About His Party's Message On Gay Marriage

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In a week of notable changes and “evolutions” on the issue of gay marriage, RNC Chair Reince Priebus has been perhaps the most shaky on the party platform and position. 

Sunday was the second example of a statement he’ll likely come to regret. He was a guest on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he told David Gregory that he thinks gays and lesbians should have equal rights in the workplace

“I think they deserve equal rights in regard to, say, discrimination in the workplace, issues such as, as Mitt Romney has pointed out numerous times, hospital visitations. I mean I think that for the sake of dignity and respect, sure.”

Well, turns out next month that Priebus will have a chance to back that up, as the Senate is scheduled to hold hearings on June 12 on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. 

Mitt Romney, though, has changed positions on this type of bill. In 1994, he said he would champion and co-sponsor federal legislation preventing workplace discrimination. He backed away from that in 2007, when he said he only supported it on the state level. Barney Frank’s version of the bill he introduced in 2009 — which has since stalled — had 203 co-sponsors — 197 Democrats and six Republicans, highlighting the party difference on the bill.

As Gregory subsequently pointed out in a follow-up question, that’s the second time Priebus has gone off-kilter in the party’s message on gay marriage. On Wednesday, just after President Obama endorsed gay marriage in his ABC interview, he spoke to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell:

“Governor Romney and the Republican Party have been pretty clear, marriage is between one man and one woman. We believe ultimately that you can’t federalize that kind of mandate, which is why we believe that individual states can make that decision on their own.”

Well, no. Romney and other in the Republican Party want to do exactly that: federalize that kind of mandate. Specifically in the pretty simply laid-out, five-part pledge Romney made – along with Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann — to the National organisation of Marriage last August.

It’s pretty clearly written: “I, Mitt Romney, pledge to … support and send to the states a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman to the states for ratification.”

Priebus clarified to Gregory on Sunday that the party would like to see a federal amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and said it would be featured in the party platform. 

Perhaps a further clarification is coming on the Sunday’s statement as well. But as it becomes more and more of an issue in the campaign, Priebus, as the head of the Republican Party, needs to get the party — starting with himself — on one message.

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