By Casey Gale
Marriage equality is a divisive topic for Republicans. But one GOP political adviser sees the issue as delivering on the Declaration of Independence’s promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
In “An Evening with Steve Schmidt,” presented by The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics on Nov. 12, political adviser Steve Schmidt shared his views on marriage equality and the trajectory of the Republican Party with the Rider community in an address to the audience and in a Q&A with Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute.
“To me, this is a fundamental issue of right and wrong, and one where we would never want to see Americans disenfranchised from the ability to have a relationship recognized and sanctioned by the state that can bring such completeness and joy to any life,” he said.
Schmidt feels that the Republican Party is an organization that should be in favor of equality if it adheres to its origins.
“The Republican party has stood always for the notions of individual freedom, has stood for the dignity of the individual and the dignity of the human being,” said Schmidt. “So when we look at this issue of marriage equality, I support it not in spite of my Conservatism, but because of it.”
Despite noting that many Republicans shy away from speaking about the issue of marriage equality, he is optimistic that a consensus on the issue will continue to grow. If not, he said, Republicans risk alienating other minority groups as well.
“When you are disrespectful to an entire community, you alienate the electorate that you need in order to win,” he said.
Kait Williamson, a senior public relations major, found his words enlightening.
“Being a young Republican woman myself, I’m kind of in the minority, so I think it’s refreshing to see someone who has a very optimistic view of several topics that are in debate throughout America and is so open-minded to the possibilities of what the future may hold,” she said.
Schmidt has considerable experience in politics. He was deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and served as counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. Additionally, he managed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign in 2006 and served as senior adviser for the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain.
Schmidt concluded his address on a positive note.
“I’m optimistic both about the future of the country and the future of the party,” he said. “As is you will see, whether it is on marriage equality or a range of other issues, I think the party will become more inclusive and will again embrace those principles that made it a national party and the dominant presidential party in the 20th century.”