The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday legalizing same-sex marriage across the country has confronted the Republican Party with a choice: to rally the base by continuing to fight, or take the loss and move on.
Gay marriage is an issue for which public support has grown with a speed unlike that seen on any other social question in modern history.
Opposition remains strong, however, among religious and social conservatives. That segment of voters is crucial to the GOP coalition and a key to victory in some of the early-contest states, including Iowa, South Carolina and much of the rest of the South.
The dilemma presented by the same-sex marriage ruling expressed itself almost immediately in the reactions from the party’s enormous field of declared and presumed 2016 presidential candidates. They ranged from defiant to pragmatic, apocalyptic to philosophical.
In each, there was a glimpse of how the candidates have mapped out their path to victory.