A year and a half after former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged to oppose efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, his leading adviser during the 2012 campaign in Iowa spoke out in support of marriage equality. At an event at a Des Moines law firm hosted by Iowa Republicans for Freedom, a pro-same-sex marriage group, Romney's Iowa strategist David Kochel joined former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman (who is openly gay) to make the conservative case for legalizing same-sex marriage. “Support for the freedom to marry is emerging as a mainstream position in the Republican Party. If we are to be the party of principles and values, isn't our first obligation to the principle of freedom, and the value of individual liberty?” Kochel said at the event, according to a press release. Although he has never spoken publicly about the matter before now, Kochel said he has felt this way for a while. Like many politicians and political operatives who have "evolved" on this issue, including President Barack Obama, Kochel cited influential conversations with friends and family.