(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
With support for redefining marriage to include same-sex couples appearing to grow, Republican operatives are debating whether the party's position could shift on the issue.
When asked if a future Republican presidential candidate could support same-sex marriage, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) answered that it is "inevitable." "There will be one. And I think he'll receive Republican support, or she will," Flake said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
When asked a similar question last week, Republican strategist Karl Rove said that a gay marriage supporter could capture the Republican nomination in 2016.
Flake said he is a supporter of traditional marriage, though. He also noted that he has supported gay rights in other areas, such as repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule and voting in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban employment discrimination for gays and lesbians.
On "Fox News Sunday," former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie said he believes that the Republican platform will never support redefining marriage, but it may abandon its call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The reason, Gillespie believes, is that Republicans may be moving toward more of a federalist view of the issue, in which each state decides how to define marriage, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court arguments over gay marriage.
"A lot of conservatives found themselves arguing in this instance that the court should not impose a federal mandate that [gay marriage] is legal. So there has been a little bit of a shift, I think, in terms of Republicans saying we should allow this to be worked out through the states, not by courts and not imposed federally," Gillespie said.
ABC News Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny believes that Republican donors will provide one indication of whether or not a pro-gay marriage Republican can capture the 2016 presidential nomination.
"I'm looking at the donor class," Zeleny said on ABC's "This Week." There are more and more donors, [wealthy Republican donor] Sheldon Adelson said he doesn't care about same-sex marriage. Some other super PAC contributors are supportive of [gay marriage] on the Republican side."