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Republican Party battles over gay-rights messaging

From an Associated Press story by Bill Barrow about tension in the Republican Party:

gop

Using social media, Republican National Committee member Dave Agema of Michigan redistributed controversial writings that were harshly critical of gay Americans. Agema dug in after many Michigan Republicans called for his resignation.

Days later, the head of the Georgia state party, Sue Everhart, said that if same-sex marriage were "natural," then gay couples "would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship." She predicted that if the Supreme Court allows federal employee benefits for gay couples, then individuals who are "straight as an arrow" will enter same-sex unions just for financial perks.

Comments like those have some Republicans reeling.

"It's extremely, extremely frustrating," said Gregory Steele, a University of North Carolina senior who leads his state's college Republican organization. "We want the party to have a serious policy discussion about all of these issues going forward, but it's hard to get to that point with all of these mistakes."

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who retired in January as one of the GOP's last elected New England moderates, deplored the "intolerance" that she says has driven a "slow and steady erosion of a strong political base."

"It's very exclusionary," Snowe said. "For anyone who isn't already a Republican, how are they going to be drawn in right now?"

At Log Cabin Republicans, a national group of gay GOP loyalists, Gregory Angelo said the flaps reinforce the image of an inflexible organization. But he also noted Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's recent embrace of same-sex marriage, and described the party right now as going through "growing pains."

"We are no longer walking in lock-step on these (social) issues," he said.

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