- - Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gay-rights groups are applauding former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for advising Republican leaders to take a deep breath and embrace gay marriage.

“The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to accommodate and deal with reality. And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period,” he told The Huffington Post.

Noting that his half-sister works at Human Rights Campaign and he has gay friends who married in Iowa, Mr. Gingrich said that while he still believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, he and the Republican Party would be wise to accept a distinction between “a marriage in a church” and “a legal document issued by the state.”

“I didn’t think that was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Mr. Gingrich, adding that it was unexpected to see “anything like as big a wave of change as we are now seeing.”

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry said Mr. Gingrich’s “new position shows that when conservatives truly examine their core values — family, individual freedom and limited government — we see that the freedom to marry is fundamentally in line with those beliefs.”

Mr. Gingrich’s evolution “draws a sharp contrast with the few extremists continuing to fight against equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.

WHITE HOUSE

Carney defends former GOP senator eyed for Pentagon

On Thursday, the White House publicly defended the reputation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a top contender for defense secretary, even though he has yet to formally be nominated to the post.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Hagel, a Republican who endorsed Mr. Obama’s first bid for president, has been a “remarkable servant to this country.”

Although Mr. Carney said he did not have anything to say about the president’s personnel decisions, he went on to defend Mr. Hagel in general terms, but did not specifically address the charges of anti-Israel sentiment.

“What I can tell you is that Sen. Hagel fought and bled for his country. He served his country well. He was an excellent senator,” he said. Mr. Hagel served two terms as senator from Nebraska, from 1997 to 2009.

Earlier, Mr. Hagel served as an enlisted infantryman in the Vietnam War and was awarded two Purple Hearts.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama’s approval rating is highest since 2009

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