Rove: ‘I could’ see 2016 GOP candidate backing same-sex marriage

Republican strategist Karl Rove said Sunday it’s conceivable that the next Republican presidential candidate might support gay marriage.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Rove was asked if he could “imagine the next presidential campaign, a Republican candidate saying flat out, I am for gay marriage.”

“I could,” Rove responded.

Support for same-sex marriage has since picked up steam in some quarters of the Republican Party. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who was, at one time, viewed as a potential vice presidential candidate to Mitt Romney, publicly endorsed gay marriage this month after learning two years ago his son was gay.

And last month other prominent Republicans, including former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), signed a legal brief arguing that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The Supreme Court this week will hear oral arguments in two cases about whether same-sex couples have the right to marry.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama announced his newfound support for same-sex marriage, making him the first presidential candidate from either party to hold that position.

But even as polls show growing support for gay marriage, the issue could prove difficult for GOP candidates. Social conservative voters remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage rights.

The House GOP is also defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, before the high court.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that he “can’t imagine” his views on the issue changing.