John McCain's Campaign Manager Backs Gay Marriage, Opposes GOP as 'Religious Party'

Steve Schmidt made the case today before the Long Cabin Republicans.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

A day after the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee delivered a speech steeped in religion, the campaign manager for the 2008 Republican presidential nominee delivered a speech warning the GOP against becoming a "religious party." This is a party with an identity crisis on its hands. Here's an excerpt from John McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt's speech today before the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP group, in which he makes the case for legalized gay marriage:

I respect the opinions of Americans who oppose marriage for gay couples on religious grounds. I may disagree, but if you sincerely believe God's revealed truth objects to it then it is perfectly honorable to oppose it. But those are not the grounds on which a political party should take or argue a position. If you put public policy issues to a religious test you risk becoming a religious party, and in a free country, a political party cannot remain viable in the long term if it is seen as sectarian.

. . . There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same sex marriage. I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one's liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage. In a marriage, two people are completely responsible to and for each other. If you are not willing to accept and faithfully discharge those responsibilities, you shouldn't enter the state of matrimony, and it doesn't make a damn bit of difference if you're straight or gay. It is a responsibility like no other, which can and should make marriage an association between two human beings more fulfilling than any other.

Many studies have shown that married people are generally happier than unmarried people. Marriage gives greater purpose to life, and, to borrow from Pastor [Rick] Warren, the more purpose driven your life is, the happier it is. Marriage does not or should not depend on transitory emotions. It is a partnership in all aspects of life that changes the way not just society, but the individual perceives him or herself, and gives greater incentive to an individual to live a good and virtuous life because the happiness, not just momentary pleasure, but the lasting happiness, of others depends on it. Marriage can be a profoundly gratifying state that strengthens the virtue of individuals and societies, and increases the measure and quality of the happiness we enjoy. It seems to me a terrible inequity that any person should be denied that responsibility, and the emotional enrichment it can provide. And I cannot in good conscience exclude anyone who is prepared for such a commitment from the prospect of such happiness.

Read the full speech here.