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Equality Matters President Sees "Glass Half-Full" for GOP Support of Gay Marriage in 2012

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on openly gay service personnel passed Congress with support from eight Senate Republicans. Does this portend more Republican support for issues like gay marriage next year?  Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters, a media and communications initiative in support of gay equality, told ABC News on Wednesday that he’s taking “a glass half-full" approach, even suggesting that in 2012 “you may have a Republican candidate for president...who supports gay marriage.”

“I’m definitely a glass half-full," said Socarides, a former special assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, “because I think that you see a Ted Olson, a former Solicitor General, bringing this very important marriage case out in California. You see people like Laura Bush saying that they think gay marriage is coming. You see other prominent Republicans, [ex-Pres. George W. Bush campaign manager] Ken Mehlman, among others, saying that, they’re comfortable enough to come out, talking about this issue. So, I think that Republicans, there’s a lot going on in the Republican community. You may even have a Republican candidate for president this year, next time who supports gay marriage.”

Socarides’ optimism, however, is tempered by what he sees of the Republicans in Congress. “The congressional wing of the Republican party,” said Socarides, “is much more conservative on these issues. It is extremely unlikely in the next two years that we will get any important gay rights legislation through Congress.”

As for President Obama’s recent statement that his views on gay marriage were “evolving,” Socarides noted that “it’s very rare that we see someone having this public discussion with themselves, a president having a discussion with himself in public. So I think he’s trying to send some signals, trying test the water a little bit.”

Ultimately, said Socarides, Obama has “gotten a good reaction” to these signals, “because I think the country is ready for this. I think culturally the country has progressed so much further on these issues of equality than we have in Congress or in politics.”

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