Supreme Court decisions highlight political challenges facing GOP

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush Paul Sancya, AP

Jeb BushPaul Sancya, AP

Jeb Bush

WASHINGTON — For the second time in two days, the Supreme Court struck at the heart of the Republican Party platform.

Yet the response to Friday’s ruling to give same-sex couples the right to marry was mild in comparison with the outrage that followed the high court’s decision Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama‘s health care law. Friday’s ruling instead drew tepid responses from several Republicans who, in many cases, would like that issue to fade away.

The sharp contrast highlights the political challenges for a Republican Party searching for a winning playbook in 2016.

The GOP‘s presidential class is ready to bet big their opposition to Obama’s health care law will resonate with voters. But facing a seismic shift in public opinion on gay marriage, several of the party’s most ambitious appear ready to turn the page on a social issue the GOP used for a generation to motivate its most passionate voters to turn out at the polls.

Perhaps no Republican presidential candidate better illustrated the contrast than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was ready with a fiery statement and a video, “This is not the end of the fight,” to decry the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Affordable Care Act.

In a fundraising email, Bush warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton would offer “more of the same.” ”That is why I need you to make a one time-emergency contribution of $50, $25 or $10 to my campaign to ensure that NEVER happens.”

A day later, after the marriage ruling, Bush made no such fundraising pitch, offering only a one-paragraph statement. States should be allowed to make the decision, he said, adding, “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.”

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Polls show what’s motivating the temperance of some in the GOP: Americans are now more likely than not to support same-sex marriage, with some surveys showing as many as 6 in 10 in favor. The shift over 10 years has been dramatic. Polling by the Pew Research Center found support for same-sex marriage growing from 36 percent in 2005 to 57 percent in a poll conducted in May.

While most Republicans remain opposed to same-sex marriage, 59 percent of those between age 18 and 34 supported marriage rights for gay couples in Pew’s most recent poll.

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