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Younger members split with GOP on social issues including marijuana and gay marriage equality

BY BRENDAN FARRINGTON
AP POLITICAL WRITER

TAMPA, Fla. -- At a recent meeting, the Tampa Bay Young Republicans recited the Pledge of Allegiance, prayed and then tackled the night's topic: marijuana.

Their guest? Personal injury lawyer John Morgan, a huge Democratic Party donor campaigning to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Months earlier, the same group supported a Supreme Court opinion that was a victory for gay marriage advocates even as Republican leaders insisted marriage should be between only a man and a woman.

The group illustrates a growing generational divide in the GOP as younger Republicans increasingly break rank from the establishment on social issues. In Alabama, a college Republican group leader was nearly kicked out of the party for supporting gay marriage. The successful push to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota was backed by several prominent younger Republicans. And in Colorado, the spokesman for a group that pushed to legalize marijuana was a Republican activist. Perhaps only in opposing abortion are most young Republicans nationally as conservative socially as older members.

"We've grown up in a time where everything's much more open. We want to talk about more things," Tampa Bay Young Republicans president Anibal Cabrera said. "We're willing to listen to the other point of view. We're willing to have an opposite opinion."

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