SACRAMENTO -- The Marin County Republican Party has endorsed same-sex marriage in one of the first votes of its kind in the country.
"This is our opportunity to redefine ourselves to the people of Marin County," said Kevin Krick, chairman of the local party. "We wanted to demonstrate that we are inclusive."
The Marin County Republicans held the vote at their monthly meeting on Thursday.
Local party organizations are autonomous, and the vote does not change the state or national Republican Party's opposition to same-sex marriage. But the decision in Marin County is another sign that same-sex marriage is gaining new support, said Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political group.
"This underscores the fact that Republicans are no longer walking lockstep on the issue of marriage equality," he said.
The local Republican organization in Washington, D.C., also endorsed same-sex marriage last year. Angelo said he's not aware of any other local or state Republican parties supporting gay unions.
Marin County is a well-known liberal bastion. Fewer than 20% of residents are registered Republicans, even lower than the 29% statewide total.
Krick said his party's opposition to same-sex marriage has been a significant obstacle to drawing new people to the GOP. Even when potential voters would express interest in some conservative policies, he said, they would balk at voting for a Republican because of the party's stance on gay unions.
"We were completely out of sync with the majority of the population here," he said.
California voters approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2008 by passing Proposition 8, but more than 75% of Marin County voters opposed it.
The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Proposition 8 in a decision last month, and gay couples are once again allowed to marry in California.