The country is rapidly evolving on gay rights issues--a plurality of Americans now approve of same-sex marriage. But the Republican Party and its social conservative members are struggling to deal with the shifting landscape. The important annual conference CPAC nearly erupted in civil war over letting the gay Republican group GOProud participate. Gay students are struggling to live openly at Christian colleges. A vaguely pro-gay retweet from Sarah Palin caused a brief bloggy firestorm earlier this year. And now that turmoil could play out in the first Republican primary debate, because gay rights activist and presidential candidate Fred Karger has been invited to participate--in South Carolina, of all places.
Karger has said he'd consider his campaign a success if he got into a debate. Interestingly, one of the main hurdles for Karger on this has come from the Republican National Committee, which put James Bopp in charge of the debates. Bopp has represented groups suing to stop gay marriage, and even subpoenaed Karger to testify. Karger wanted Bopp out, citing the conflict of interest, but it looks like that won't be necessary now. The California activist will have to pay a $35,000 filing fee to the South Carolina Republican Party to participate in the May 5 event, which he says he'll do, Politico's Andy Barr reports.