Republicans are changing their minds on same-sex marriage, but, according to NRO’s Daniel Foster , in more complicated ways than might appear.

Some raw numbers to start: “opposition to same-sex marriage is increasingly tenuous, particularly along two axes. First, self-described tea-party Republicans oppose gay marriage 84/13, while Republicans who describe themselves as neutral toward or opposed to the Tea Party oppose gay marriage by smaller 62/34 and 52/47 splits, respectively. This is a more or less momentous split depending on how credible one finds evidence that tea-party membership is in sharp decline. Second, and perhaps most critically, exit polling shows that 51 percent of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage in their state. If this datum alone holds, one might think, gay marriage is a fait accompli in the near to medium term. And indeed, the polls report just that feeling among the broader public: 83 percent of voters, supporters and opponents included, think that gay marriage will be legal nationally in the next five to ten years.”

Here’s where things get complicated.

Republicans are less likely than others to advocate a federalized “civil rights” approach. When the issues regarding same-sex unions are differentiated, there are more varied results. In one survey, “while only 52 percent of respondents supported gay marriage, 59 percent believed the federal government should recognize legal same-sex unions from the states. And even larger majorities believed that the government should extend to same-sex couples various privileges and responsibilities attendant on traditional marriage.” Republicans are also more likely to favor same-sex legislation that has built-in religious liberty projects, like Maryland’s Question 6.

Foster concludes that we’re in a time when “one can be against gay marriage but for its recognition, and for marriage equality but against requiring its religious recognition,” which makes it harder to predict whether Republican Party endorsement for “freedom to marry” is inevitable.