GOP's Hard Line on Gay Marriage

Despite Log Cabin's efforts, Republican platform goes all in with fight against marriage equality

By Justin Snow
Published on August 21, 2012, 6:22pm | Comments

The Republican Party reaffirmed their opposition to marriage equality earlier this week with language that was as harsh as it was expected.

A week before the kickoff of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., the committee responsible for drafting the party's national platform approved language that supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and blasts the Obama administration's decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

R. Clarke Cooper

R. Clarke Cooper

(Photo via twitter @RClarkeCooper)

First reported by BuzzFeed, the platform states that marriage is the ''foundation of society'' and its ''success as an institution will determine our success as a nation.''

Although the text goes on to declare that the party embraces ''the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity,'' it blasts an ''activist judiciary'' that has sided with challenges to the constitutionality of DOMA, which forbids federal recognition of same-sex nuptials.

The platform declares ''court-ordered redefinition of marriage'' to be ''an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.''

Moreover, the platform reaffirms Republican support for DOMA and declares that an activist judiciary endangers the foundation of the country.

''We oppose the Administration's open defiance of this constitutional principle — in its handling of immigration cases, in federal personnel benefits, in allowing a same-sex marriage at a military base, and in refusing to defend DOMA in the courts — makes a mockery of the President's inaugural oath,'' the draft reads.

Although party platforms do nothing more than inform the party faithful as to how they should vote, the harsh language came as a disappointment to gay conservatives. Despite attempts on Tuesday by some on the 110-member committee to adopt more inclusive language, they were all soundly defeated.

In an email to Metro Weekly, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper described the marriage language as ''politically unwise.''

"Despite the marriage language being politically unwise and imposing upon the separation of the church and state, I was pleased there was a solid debate on civil marriage, civil unions and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act," Cooper wrote, who attended the platform hearings in Tampa.

Log Cabin Republicans have been accused by another group of gay conservatives, GOProud, of providing opponents like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who helped write most of the marriage language, the platform fight they wanted all along.

In an interview with Metro Weekly, GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia said the language came as no surprise, but was harsh in his criticism of Log Cabin Republicans and the FRC for giving the platform debate so much attention.

''I think groups that have chosen to elevate this platform to a public fight have done a disservice to the Romney campaign,'' said LaSalvia. ''It's not only a distraction on the issues that are important to the American people, but it's a distraction from Barack Obama's failed record.''

Noting that the platform grants no rights or responsibilities, LaSalvia described the document as ''meaningless.''

''Log Cabin, by making their public statements, have put a bull's-eye on gay issues and given Tony Perkins and his folks the opportunity to pullout their canon and publicly blast them,'' said LaSalvia. ''We knew how this was going to end up. By blowing it up in public, they made a perfect recipe for disaster.''

Cooper defended his organization's work, writing in an email, "Log Cabin Republicans took the opportunity to work with fellow conservatives where others were unable or unwilling to participate. In contrast with the 1990s, we are a welcome presence at the RNC. We have more allies in 2012 than in 1992 and we are winning the long game. The younger conservative is on our side."

Although GOProud has endorsed Mitt Romney for president, Log Cabin Republicans have yet to issue their endorsement. In 2004 the group withheld their support for President George W. Bush because of the campaign's push for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Despite infighting among gay conservatives, the platform stands in stark contrast to language set to be adopted by the Democratic Party, which not only embraces marriage equality but disavows the Defense of Marriage Act.

The party platform put forward by the drafting committee aligns closely with the views of Romney and Paul Ryan, who both support amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Romney himself has said he opposes civil unions that are the same as marriage in everything but name.

Marriage equality advocates were quick to criticize the platform draft, declaring the Republican Party out of step with a growing majority of Americans.

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said the party was ''poised to send a devastating message to LGBT youth – that they and the families they aspire to one day build are not worthy of the same protections as everyone else.''

''With a growing majority of Americans, a substantial majority of independents, and a super-majority of young people across the spectrum supporting the freedom to marry for all committed couples, it's sad to see the Republican Party so out of touch,'' wrote Freedom to Marry Executive Director Evan Wolfson. ''A party that proclaims its belief in freedom, limited government, and personal responsibility should not be doubling down against couples seeking to share in the commitment of marriage and the birthright of liberty and justice for all.''

A group of young conservatives under the umbrella of Freedom to Marry had encouraged the platform committee to embrace marriage equality in a letter sent last week.

Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry wrote that if Republicans "truly believe in family values, then we must value all families."

"Giving people more personal freedom is the foundation of the Republican Party, which, as the Party of Lincoln, has a proud tradition of expanding liberties," the letter continued.

Signed by the leadership committee of the organization, the letter was addressed to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is chairing the committee tasked with drafting the Republican Party's national platform.

The group responded on Tuesday to the platform, writing in a statement that they agree with many of the views about marriage present in the platform, but believe those views should be extended to same-sex couples.

"Despite that disappointment, we are undeterred and will continue to fight for all Americans to 'be treated with respect and dignity.' We will continue to engage our fellow conservatives in discussions about marriage and encourage them to extend that 'respect and dignity' to everyone, including same-sex couples,'' they wrote.

The platform must still be approved by delegates at the Republican National Convention, which kicks off on Aug. 27.