As candidates to head the Republican Party prepare to debate, Richard Socarides, president of Equity Matters, claims support for gay marriage within the GOP is increasing.

In an appearance on ABC News' Topline, Socarides said he was a “glass half full” type of person on the issue of gay rights in the Republican Party.

“You see Ted Olson, a former solicitor general, bringing this very important marriage case out in California,” Socarides said. “You see people like Laura Bush saying that they think gay marriage is coming. You see other very prominent Republicans, Ken Mehlman among others – comfortable enough to come out – and talking about these issues.”

Show host Amy Walter gasped in disbelief when Socarides added: “We may even have a Republican candidate for president this next time who supports gay marriage.”

Socarides, however, failed to mention Fred Karger, an openly gay Republican and gay marriage activist who is considering a run for president in 2012.

And while marginal voices in the party support gay rights, none of the leading candidates vying to unseat RNC Chairman Michael Steele support gay marriage. The candidates will gather on Monday to debate the issues.