Despite efforts from Republican LGBT advocates to remove opposition to same-sex marriage from the 2016 Republican Party platform, the draft document contains language repudiating the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality nationwide.
Although the draft document isn’t yet publicly available, reporters covering the platform committee meetings on Monday in Cleveland revealed details as they were being hammered out. According to The New York Times, the platform rejects the Obergefell decision and calls for “judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to states.”
“Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society,” the platform reportedly says.
Additionally, at a time when use of public restrooms by transgender people has become a national issue, the proposed platform denies the ban on sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies to transgender people, according to The New York Times.
The draft platform reportedly says interpreting the law to allow transgender students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity seeks “to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people.”
“Their agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power,” the draft platform reportedly says. “They are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities is at once illegal, ominous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suits against it.”
The anti-LGBT language is a component of a broader platform described as aligning itself with the far right of the Republican Party. Other parts of the platform reportedly seek to bar military women from combat, declare pornography a “public health crisis” and refer to coal as a source of “clean” energy. Another plank endorses presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The platform committee, which met in Cleveland in the week before Republican National Convention, gave its final approval to the draft late Tuesday afternoon. The next step in the process is ratification by delegates at the convention on Monday.
According to NBC News, Trump aides anonymously said the candidate is pleased with the result and supports the platform. The campaign didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to the Blade’s request to verify Trump’s support for the platform.
The draft platform contains the anti-LGBT planks despite a campaign led by the American Unity Fund, a pro-LGBT group founded by GOP philanthropist Paul Singer, to remove anti-LGBT language seen in years past in the Republican platforms.
In place of opposition to same-sex marriage and support for a constitutional amendment barring gay nuptials, the American Unity Fund through its Platform Reform campaign sought to recognize “diverse and sincerely held views on civil marriage” as well as growth in GOP support for same-sex marriage.
Rachel Hoff, a defense analyst at the D.C.-based American Action Forum who identified herself as the first openly gay person credentialed to the Republican party platform committee, introduced the amendment during full committee discussion of the platform. Her effort was rejected after she made an emotional plea to change the language.
“I’m not here asking you today to endorse my own constitutional rights, which have been made clear by the recent Supreme Court decision last year,” Hoff said. “I’m only asking you to recognize that many of the Republicans that sent us here to do work this week in shaping our party’s platform agree with me, and we should not be excluded from our party.”
A spokesperson for the American Unity Fund declined to comment on the reported anti-LGBT language in the draft Republican platform earlier in the week, saying the process for creating it is still ongoing. The organization didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment on Wednesday after the committee approved the platform.
The platform committee also adopted an amendment from Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, endorsing widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for LGBT people.
“We support the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children,” the amendment said, according to Time magazine.
According to Time magazine, Perkins had to meet with Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus to introduce the proposal because the deadline for new amendments had passed.
Perkins missed deadline to pre-file amendment, can bring it up from floor (but RNC doesn’t want it) https://t.co/P3uC1kJ9XA
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 11, 2016
Additionally, the platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, federal “religious freedom” legislation that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination. The House Committee on Oversight & Government Relations held a hearing on the legislation on the same day the committee approved the platform.
Other proposals emerged to remove the plank against same-sex marriage and soften other anti-LGBT language in the platform, but those efforts were rejected. The Republican National Committee didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to verify or comment on the proposed language.
Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York and adviser to Singer, introduced an amendment that would have stripped the platform of language supporting the First Amendment Defense Act on the basis that it was “blatant discrimination” against same-sex couples raising children, but it was defeated.
“I just want us to all keep in mind addition vs. subtraction to start off here,” Dickerson said. “So, we really need to attract more people to the Republican Party and not cause people to flee in large numbers, not just gays but people that love them, millennials who by and large support non-discrimination and even marriage equality in larger numbers. This is only going in one direction.”
On consideration of her amendment, Virginia delegate Tommy Valentine said she was implying fellow Republicans were bigots and said “it’s certainly not helping her cause.” Dickerson interrupted and said she didn’t use that language and rejects it. Valentine responded, “I have the floor.”
Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, attended the platform committee hearing as a credentialed guest and afterward issued an email blast to supporters taking the unusual step of slamming the party.
“There’s no way to sugar-coat this: I’m mad as hell — and I know you are, too,” Angelo said. “Moments ago, the Republican Party passed the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history. Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away’ — it’s all in there. This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either.”
The email reminds supporters Log Cabin is credentialed for the upcoming National Republican Convention and seeks donations to continue to support the effort.
John Fluharty, who’s gay and former chair of the Delaware Republican Party, assailed Log Cabin for the mass email, saying the release of “a fundraising device following their abject failure at the platform committee is disturbing.”
“There are millions of LGBTQ Americans who identify as Republican and who fight in the trenches every day to bring change to our party,” Fluharty added. “Log Cabin failed these folks. One has to ask why Log Cabin is ineffective in helping the party understand how the community can be a valuable part of a winning coalition.”
Aside from the proposed change on marriage from the American Unity Fund, Angelo said earlier in the week there were other proposed pro-LGBT amendments.
One, Angelo said, enumerated gay people are the targets of radical Islamic terrorism as well as religious minority groups, women and “freedom-loving Americans.” Yet another, Angelo said, sought a balance between religious freedom and LGBT rights. That proposal, he said, endorses the Utah compromise, which enacted state LGBT non-discrimination protections while allowing clerks to opt out of issuing marriage licenses if they object to same-sex nuptials.
“I’m unsure how the Utah compromise amendment fared (or if it was even ultimately introduced),” Angelo said, “but I was in the National Security Subcommittee hearing when the plank acknowledging the targeting of ‘women, religious minorities, and members of the LGBT community’ was proposed by Rachel Hoff. It was ultimately amended to strike any language specific to certain groups and instead replaced with text affirming the dignity of all human beings.”
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, condemned the platform and said presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should seek to remove the anti-LGBT language.
“It is clear that an extreme and far-right minority has a stranglehold over the platform process, and is pushing the Republican Party away from the majority of Americans who support protecting LGBT individuals and their families from discrimination,” McTighe said. “Donald Trump has said that he is a friend to the LGBT community; he needs to demonstrate that commitment by fighting to have the discriminatory planks stripped from the platform.”
Note: This article was updated on Wednesday, July 13 after the initial posting on Monday.