CLEVELAND — The first openly gay member of the Republican Party’s platform committee on Tuesday said she does not “plan to leave” the GOP.
Rachel Hoff, a defense analyst for the American Action Forum in D.C., made the comment as she spoke about her party’s anti-LGBT platform at a panel that Equality Ohio, a statewide advocacy group, held at the New West Theatre in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
She acknowledged there is “some bad stuff on bathrooms” and “hurtful language on gay parenting and adoption” in the platform. Hoff also noted there is a “veiled reference” to so-called conversion therapy.
“It no longer says conversion,” she said. “We’re supposed to thank them that it only says therapy, but we’ll take small signs of progress as mini-victories.”
Draft platform ‘much better’ on LGBT issues
The panel took place a day after delegates to the Republican National Convention approved their party’s platform that Log Cabin Republicans described as the most anti-LGBT in the GOP’s history.
Hoff said the draft platform that the committee received from the Republican National Committee was “much better on LGBT issues.”
“It then went into a sort of family values subcommittee and came out worse,” she said.
Hoff said the full committee debated three proposed amendments.
One would have removed what she described as “traditional marriage language” from the platform and replaced it “with a message of inclusion, to basically respect and acknowledge a diversity of opinion within the Republican Party on this issue.”
Another proposed amendment would have acknowledged “the LGBT community around the world as victims of violence and extremism.” The third proposed amendment would “specifically name and call the LGBT community as the victims” of the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
Hoff said the debate took place a month to the day after a gunman killed 49 people inside the gay nightclub.
“I’m dismayed to report that that amendment along with the other two were defeated pretty soundly by the committee,” she said.
Hoff said that 23 members of the committee supported the marriage amendment.
“[It was] clearly not enough for a win, but it is . . . almost a quarter of the committee,” she said. “So that one was actually an encouraging sign to me.”
Hoff spoke shortly before she introduced Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the country in June 2015.
“It was somewhat awkward to talk about marriage because we’re way past that as a country, as an LGBT community,” she said.
Hoff added that the platform committee is “the last stronghold of traditional marriage advocates” within the Republican Party.
“They know that and that’s why they fight there so strongly,” she said. “They know that they’ve lost this issue. They know that the country has moved on. They know that the party is ready to move on and they sort of staked out that ground for that reasons.”
Hoff said her primary goal on the platform committee was to “simply start a conversation about being a more inclusive party.” She described Obergefell as a “personal hero” and thanked the other panelists for their efforts in support of LGBT rights.
“I’m sorry that we’re lagging so far behind in the Republican Party,” said Hoff.