The Republican Party also needs (openly) gay members—and, as important, voters who might well agree with most or all of the party’s rhetoric about smaller government but are put off by what they rightly see as revanchist attitudes toward alternative lifestyles. There’s a palpable—and largely correct—feeling that many leading conservatives and Republicans would love not simply to scotch all this talk of marriage equality but any “normalizing” of homosexuality or lesbianism as a sexual preference. Cue Huckabee, Bachmann, the American Family Association.

That backward-looking feeling gets in the way of the central political message that Rand Paul and other libertarian-leaning conservatives and Republicans are selling as the best way forward not just for the GOP but the country. A majority of Americans think that same-sex marriages should have the same legal status as man-woman couplings and, as the College Republican National Committee’s recent report stressed, younger voters see attitudes toward same-sex marriage as a “deal-breaker.” That is, Millennials are less likely to vote for a candidate they agree with on most issues if he or she is against marriage equality. From a strictly tactical perspective, if the GOP wants to be the anti-gay-marriage party, it will diminish its future prospects. …

For the past decade, a majority of Americans agree that “the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.” That same majority thinks that marriage equality is OK. The first national politician who seriously and credibly fuses those two sentiments into a coherent platform will transform America—and in a good way.