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Clint Eastwood and gay marriage: Political tipping point for conservatives?

Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood has joined a large group of Republicans arguing for same-sex marriage in the US Supreme Court. Prominent conservatives and many of the largest US corporations now favor gay marriage as well.

By Staff writer / March 2, 2013

Actor Clint Eastwood addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 30, 2012. Mr. Eastwood has joined other conservatives in supporting same-sex marriage.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Movie icon Clint Eastwood – who famously mocked Barack Obama at the Republican convention last summer – has joined the president in supporting same-sex marriage.

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No, Mr. Eastwood – he of that empty chair used as a prop in Tampa, Fla. – has not shucked his generally conservative ways. But he has joined with more than 100 other conservatives and Republicans who recently came out for gay marriage, among them former governors, GOP administration senior officials, and prominent right-leaning pundits.

In fact, as Mike Flynn at Breitbart.com pointed out in first reporting Eastwood’s move, the actor and Oscar-winning director is as much a political libertarian as anything else.

But the news does indicate an important shift among conservatives on this hot-button social issue, particularly among younger voters for whom same-sex marriage is no big deal – a political demographic the GOP badly needs to woo. Or as the Pew Research Center puts it, “Millennials are almost twice as likely as the Silent Generation to support same-sex marriage.”

And if nothing else, it may signal a tipping point in public attitudes just as the US Supreme Court is about to decide two critical cases: the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, banning gay marriage.

Polls indicate that the country is “evolving” on the issue at least as rapidly as Mr. Obama last year said he was. In California, a new Field Poll has California voters approving of same-sex marriage by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (61 percent to 32 percent).

“This represents a complete reversal in views about the issue from 1977, when The Field Poll conducted its first survey on this topic, and is the highest level of support ever measured by the poll,” the organization reported this week. “Approval of allowing marriage between two people of the same gender includes majorities of men and women, voters in all racial and ethnic groups, and Californians living in each of the major regions of the state. The only subgroups where majorities remain opposed are registered Republicans and voters who classify themselves as conservative in politics.”

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