On the GOP side, there has been a quiet debate since Election Day 2008.

After Obama’s victory, in which he easily won the youth vote, some Republicans worried that their party’s stance on gay rights could cost them a generation of voters much more accepting of homosexuality. Steve Schmidt, who had been top adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the 2008 presidential campaign, delivered a speech in April 2009 to the Log Cabin Republicans saying that the GOP risked becoming a “sectarian” party if didn’t change.

Social conservatives quickly dismissed Schmidt’s views, and other party leaders basically ignored them. Last year, as Obama’s proposals on health care and other issues united Republicans against him, the party did not address gay rights.

Instead, GOP leaders reached a kind of truce. Cooper, the Log Cabin president, says he met with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele and other leaders. He told them that he understood that the party was not likely to start backing same-sex marriage or other pro-gay-rights stances. But he urged them to avoid heated rhetoric – an approach many of them had already adopted.