On Monday, Ward Room published this quote from 27-year-old Minnesota state Sen. Branden Peterson:
As a strong proponent of limited government, conservative principles and individual liberty, I’m proud to support legislation that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in the state of Minnesota … I strongly believe that true freedom means freedom for everyone.
It was, we wrote, a harbinger of the generational change coming in the Republican Party. Eventually, the Republicans will drop their opposition to abortion and gay marriage and present themselves as the party of personal and economic freedom.
It turns out we didn’t have to go all the way to Minnesota for an example of a young Republican championing gay rights. Here in Illinois, Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, also made the freedom argument when speaking in favor of Senate Bill 10, which would legalize gay marriage.
I believe the people of Illinois want to give individuals freedom over their life decisions. We want fairness under the law, and so for me, this is simply the right thing to do. I will be voting yes on Senate Bill 10.
Barickman was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of gay marriage. At 37, he is also the youngest Republican senator, one of the few whose worldview wasn’t shaped by the social upheavals of the 1960s or the conservative backlash led by President Ronald Reagan. Barickman’s is the minority opinion in his caucus today, but as more Generation Xers and Millenials enter politics, it will become the majority opinion. There's a famous saying in politics: "People don't change, but they die."