August 21, 2012 at 11:27 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
GOP votes down pro-gay marriage amendments to platform

The GOP platform committee on Tuesday morning voted down two amendments to the Republican Party platform that would have softened the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

The first amendment, offered by delegate Barbara Ann Fenton of Rhode Island, would have stated that in accordance with separation of church and state, the Republican Party believes government should get out of marriage and instead offer civil unions for both gay and straight couples. After objections raised by several members of the committee — including Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who maintained that limiting marriage to opposite same-sex couples benefits society — the amendment failed on a loud voice vote.

Another amendment was offered by delegate Pat Kerby to mitigate the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Reading his amendment aloud, Kerby said it stated, “… while we oppose any attempt by the judiciary to legislate from the bench, Republicans recognize that the role of government is to protect the rights of the individual. In a free society, we must accept the rights of others to live in ways we cannot condone as long there is no infringements on the rights of others, it is not the role of government to judge.”

Kerby said he feared GOP opposition to same-sex marriage would spell doom for the party at the polls during a presidential election. However, the amendment also failed on a loud voice vote, but after discussion in which fellow Nevada delegate Cynthia Kennedy read aloud a letter from Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry calling on the platform to not oppose same-sex marriage.

The 112 members of the Republican platform committee are debating language of the manifesto this week in Tampa, Fla., the week before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to take place in the same city.

According to Buzzfeed, draft language in the Republican Party platform affirms marriage as between one man, one woman; criticizes judges for “court-ordered definition of marriage”; attacks the Obama administration for no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act; and endorses a Federal Marriage Amendment. Log Cabin Republicans, who are participating in the platform drafting process, didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday to verify the marriage language or talk about the way forward.

According to Log Cabin Republicans, a subcommittee on Monday approved language from Phillip Heilarch, a delegate from Hawaii, stating, “We embrace the principle that all Americans have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.” It wasn’t immediately clear if this language was approved by the full committee.

Another delegate, Rick Cochran, who’s from Vermont, proposed including sexual orientation in the non-discrimination list in the platform. It wasn’t immediately clear if this language had been addressed.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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