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Gay Rights, Religion and Republican Politics

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Late last month, Indiana's Republican-dominated legislature passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It was much like a federal law signed by Bill Clinton 20 years ago—but there was such an outcry from supporters of gay rights that Republican Governor Mike Pence called for it to be changed. When Arkansas Republicans passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson refused to sign it.

Disputes over RFRA laws have revealed a great divide in the Republican Party. Traditionalists want to protect religious teachings against homosexuality, but others see a path to discrimination in an increasingly tolerant nation. Next year's presidential contenders are caught in the middle -- with religious conservatives more powerful in early primary states than they are later on. Will appeals to younger Republicans help remove opposition to same-sex marriage from next year's GOP platform?