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Does the future of the GOP hinge on gay marriage? (+video)

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“That's what people want to resonate about,” Gov. Walker said. “They don't want to get focused on those issues."

In his much-watched speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sen. Marco Rubio (younger still, and much-mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2016) essentially walked away from the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – Washington defining marriage as one man and one woman.

"Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot," he said – a not-so-subtle way of acknowledging that nine states and the District of Columbia already permit gay marriage and that DOMA is irrelevant, even though House Republicans (at Boehner’s direction) are defending the law in court because the Obama administration refuses to.

In a CPAC presidential straw poll Saturday, Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky edged out Rubio 25-23 percent. Significantly, 52 percent of those who voted were age 18-25 – a sign that the libertarian-leaning Sen. Paul (like his father former Rep. Ron Paul before him) will continue to be a force as the 2016 election approaches. It’s just the age bracket the GOP needs to attract, and it’s just the group inclined to have no problem with gay marriage.

Sen. Paul’s position, as outlined in a web interview with National Review, is that he may be an “old-fashioned traditionalist” who believes in the “historic and religious definition of marriage.”

“That being said, I’m not for eliminating contracts between adults,” he said. “I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn’t mention marriage. Then we don’t have to redefine what marriage is; we just don’t have marriage in the tax code.”

Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin agrees.

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