September 16, 2014 at 11:38 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Del. GOP accuses Democrats of ‘preferring’ to focus on social issues, not economy

John Fluharty, Delaware, Republican Party, GOP, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay Delaware Republican Party Executive Director John Fluharty co-sponsored resolution that criticizes state Democrats for “preferring” to focus on social issues and not the economy. (Photo courtesy of John Fluharty)

A resolution the Delaware Republican Party approved during its annual meeting on Saturday criticizes state Democrats for “preferring” to focus on social issues and not the economy.

“For the past 6 years, the democratically-controlled state government has done little to focus on the economic issues facing Delawareans, preferring instead to focus on social issues,” reads the resolution of which the Washington Blade obtained a copy.

Both chambers of the Democrat-controlled Delaware Legislature last year approved bills that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples and added gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws. Gov. Jack Markell, who is also a Democrat, subsequently signed both measures into law.

Equality Delaware and the Equality Delaware Foundation criticized the resolution.

“Equality Delaware, Inc., and Equality Delaware Foundation are non-partisan organizations,” the groups told the Blade in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, it is not surprising to us that the resolution adopted by the Delaware GOP at its 2014 annual meeting continues to ignore the will of a majority of Delawareans, and hundreds of Delaware businesses, to protect all loving families, including LGBT families, as the Delaware General Assembly did in 2013.”

The groups added social issues “are also economic issues,” noting state lawmakers approved the same-sex marriage bill before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“The legislative adoption of marriage equality before the Windsor decision provided an economic boost to this State, as we told Republican legislators it would before virtually all of them voted against it,” said Equality Delaware and the Equality Delaware Foundation.

Resolution supports ‘families as we find them today’

John Fluharty, the gay executive director of the Delaware Republican Party who co-sponsored the resolution, had a different take.

He noted to the Blade on Monday the resolution supports “Republican legislators efforts to bring an end to the tax, borrow and spend policies of the Markell administration and the Democrats in the Legislature that continue to hurt all of Delaware’s families as we find them today.”

Fluharty specifically referred to Delaware’s tax rate as he further discussed the issue.

“It is an all-inclusive phrase that I use that encompasses all families,” he told the Blade, referring back to the resolution’s language. “As Delaware is now moving beyond marriage equality and some of the issues that were around last year, issues that are on the table right now are bread and butter issues. Regardless of the composition of the family, they are all suffering right now.”

Fluharty reportedly survived an effort to oust him last April after he publicly backed marriage rights for same-sex couples during an exclusive interview with the Blade at an Equality Delaware fundraiser in Wilmington.

“It seems that the Delaware GOP is focusing on policies that unite the party and issues that affect all residents of the state, and that’s more than encouraging,” said Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, in response to the resolution.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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