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I need to get something off my chest. I’m a 23-year-old Republican voter who supports gay rights. Who cares, right? Apparently, plenty do. Every day, many in my own party argue against gay acceptance and equality.

If Republicans want to keep getting elected, they had better take a look at some important demographic numbers.

  • Recent studies that show over 80 percent of the people under 30 support equal marriage rights for all citizens.
  • Of those numbers, more than half of Republicans under 30 agree.
  • Even 64 percent of millennials who identify themselves as religious Evangelicals support same-sex marriage.

Does a sizable portion of the GOP expect to continue its anti-gay fight even as these arguments cease to resonate with an ever-increasing number of Americans and Republicans?

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It shames me that so many of my conservative peers get bent out of shape over something so silly. Friends of mine who feel the desire to express their love for people of their own gender have absolutely no bearing on how I conduct my day-to-day business.

In Arizona, the state senate approved a bill that will soon cross the desk of Gov. Jan Brewer that would allow businesses to refuse service to gay patrons. Let that sink in for a moment. 33 elected officials in Arizona think it is OK to discriminate against tax paying, law abiding American citizens based solely on their sexual preference.

This assault on the rights of citizens is so troubling that it’s garnered the attention of several prominent Arizona Republicans, including Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, both of whom have urged Brewer to veto the bill. Apple and American Airlines have also plead for Brewer to veto the bill.

On the heels of the Arizona decision, state politicians in Georgia are trying to pass “The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” which would not only allow businesses to discriminate against patrons but also in their hiring practices.

Along with Arizona and Georgia, Oklahoma is yet another Republican state attacking its gay citizens. A recent ban on gay marriage was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, who said it was “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.” A restaurant owner made headlines for saying no gays (or disabled people) were allowed in his establishment: “I really don’t want gays around … any man that would compromise his body would compromise anything,” said Gary James owner of Gary Chicaros in Enid, Oklahoma.

Following weeks of arguing in the legislature, one Oklahoma Republican now says that his constituents would be open to removing all state-regulated marriages. In other words, State Rep. Mike Turner believes that taking marriage away from everyone is a better alternative than allowing gays to marry.

Let that one sink in for a second: they hate the idea of gay marriage so much they’re willing to surrender the legal recognition for themselves.

On his Facebook page, Turner says “some believe values like faith and family are outdated. I believe they are timeless.” An implication like this does nothing than further the stigma that all Republicans must agree on exactly the same thing. By this logic, Rep. Turner is implying that anyone who disagrees with his view is anti-family and anti-faith. I am neither of those things.

Now Republicans in the Kansas and Arizona legislatures are scrambling to introduce laws touting “religious freedom” that explicitly allow businesses to deny service to homosexuals if they want to.

I don’t get why this issue continues to incite so much negative passion. As conservatives, we’re paying far too much attention to the wrong things.

I grew up in a very conservative Irish-Italian Catholic family. I was an altar boy every Sunday for almost a decade and attended the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In my progressive New Jersey town, I was surrounded by gay teachers, coaches and several friends who ended up coming out. Unlike what people on the left may think, my conservative upbringing didn’t make me automatically programmed to dislike gay people. What it taught me was to love my family, work hard and don’t be a jerk.

When I was a younger I dated a girl, and we fell into that special type of high school puppy love that usually only happens in the movies. One of my male friends has a similar story, except the person he fell in love with was another guy. Does that make his story different from my own?

The difference here is that my girlfriend and I broke up, while my friend and his boyfriend continue to have a loving relationship based on trust and excitement for one another. If I got back together with that girl, I could walk into any courthouse and get a piece of paper that entitles us to mutual tax breaks and benefits.

He can’t.

As 2012 becomes 2014 and 2016, this issue clearly isn’t going away. The country as a whole is going in one direction, a large portion of the youth in the Republican party are going in that same direction.

To move forward as a party, Republicans will also have to move forward on this issue. That day is coming, sooner than later.

I for one, as a Republican, look forward to the day when this issue is no longer an issue.

Justin Amash wants GOP that “includes more gays, lesbians, minorities, women and young people