Former House Speaker and White House hopeful Newt Gingrich made a surprising admission, saying gay marriage is both inevitable and okay by him.
Legalization of same-sex marriage in three states in 2012's election changed the landscape, and conservatives have to come to terms with it, he said.
“It is in every family, in every community." he said. "The momentum is clearly in the direction of 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 are going to be legal, period.”
The thrice-married Newt Gingrich, a Republican social conservative, said he recognizes the distinction between religious and civil marriage.
He and his Roman Catholic church consider the former to be limited to heterosexuals, but he has no problem with legal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
This is a significant departure for Gingrich; just this year, while seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, he opposed gay marriage.
Stridently, in fact.
“The effort to create alternatives to marriage between a man and a woman are natural pagan behaviors, but they are a fundamental violation of our civilization,” he said.
He also signed an Iowa conservative group’s pledge to back the Defense of Marriage Act and to seek a Constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.
A lot has changed since then, he said, both politically and personally.
He spoke kindly of his lesbian half-sister, LGBT activist Candace Gingrich, and of gay friends who’ve gotten married in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal.
Public opinion has shifted in favor of equality, he said, and the GOP could end up on the wrong side of history if it continues to fight the inevitable.
“I didn’t think [gay marriage] was inevitable 10-15 years ago,” he said. “It didn’t seem at the time to be anything like the wave of change we are now seeing.”