The Stump

Tea Party Rise Good For Gay Republicans: Log Cabin Founder

Lady Gaga at DADT Maine rally

The rise of the libertarian-leaning Tea Party could mean a more receptive GOP audience for the repeal, which Lady Gaga rallied for Monday, of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy if a co-founder of the Log Cabin Republicans is right. Pat Wellenbach/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Pat Wellenbach/AP Photo

Is the rise of the Tea Party movement a sign that the fiscally conservative and libertarian segment of the Republican Party is winning out over social conservatives opposed to gay marriage and the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy?

That's certainly the way Rick Tafel, a founder and former chair of the gay political action group Log Cabin Republicans, sees it.

He told Morning Edition guest co-host Linda Wertheimer:

"Well it was a big experiment in the Republican Party for a decade, over a decade which was the fiscally conservative, less government, free market party was going to become the family values, social conservative party. And it sort of switched identities.

And I think the rise of the Tea Party and the loss of moderates and independents has been a signal to the party that, hey, there's a lot of people out there whose issues are fiscal issues, less government, possibly the military issues and probably pretty libertarian on a lot of social issues.

Those folks have been lost. And now they're coming back in different ways. They're finding they're way back. And I think the social issues folks have lost.

While Tafel sees the Tea Party movement as predominantly libertarian, what seems clear is that the movement contains strands of both fiscal and social conservatives and that there's a very lively debate over just how big a role social issues will play in the movement.

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