The Republican Party continues to grapple with marriage equality as members of the Republican National Committee meet in Los Angeles for their spring meeting this week. The three-day meeting, which began today, is expected to address a range of issues concerning the future of the GOP and voter outreach. Of those issues, the single-most polarizing may be the party's stance on same-sex marriage.
On Friday, RNC members are expected to vote on a resolution reaffirming the party's official opposition to same-sex marriage. In a copy of the resolution obtained by Yahoo News, the committee will vote on language that states: "[T]he Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California's Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act."
Although the Republican Party's national platform adopted last summer opposes marriage equality and supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, this resolution would, if adopted, reaffirm that position, even as the country's support for same-sex marriage has increased in every state in the nation.
Indeed, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found 58 percent of Americans and more than 80 percent of those younger than 30 now believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry. With the Supreme Court considering two landmark same-sex marriage cases, two Senate Republicans, Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), have endorsed marriage equality. But while the nation's position on same-sex marriage continues to shift toward support, social conservatives within the Republican Party are digging in.
Thirteen high-profile social conservatives, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who helped draft the GOP's national platform last summer, recently sent a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus arguing for the reaffirmation of the party's platform on social issues.
"We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support," states the letter obtained by NBC News.
"The fact that the party is strongly committed to traditional marriage has not prevented their involvement through GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans," the letter continues. "We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally."
"[W]e resent and will not be used as political cover for those who disagree with us on the issue of marriage," Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, responded in a statement to Metro Weekly.
Added Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, "I've worked as an openly gay conservative activist for years, and I've had dealings with several of the signatories of the letter – that line made me laugh out loud."
While social conservatives are urging the RNC to reaffirm its opposition to marriage equality, a group of young conservatives is urging the party to do the opposite.
In a letter sent today to voting members of the RNC, 10 representatives of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, including Margaret Hoover, Abby Huntsman and Meghan McCain, asked the RNC to reject the resolution.
"The language contained in this document is objectionable and offends most Americans," the letter states. "The references it cites regarding the adequacy of gay and lesbian parents have been demonstrated to be entirely bogus by every major independent study conducted by national clinical and psychological associations. This kind of junk science is demeaning to the honest and sincere advocates on both sides of this issue."
The RNC's consideration of the anti-gay marriage resolution comes after the release last month of a 97-page "autopsy" report of the GOP, entitled the "Growth and Opportunity Project." Among other things, the report argued that for the Republican Party to win at the ballot box, an effort must be made to be more inclusive of gay voters and younger voters who support gay rights. Although the report made no mention of marriage equality nor specifically argue for the adoption of a national position on LGBT rights, it did recommend campaigning within the gay community and "communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case."
While few expect the Republican Party to change its official position on same-sex marriage anytime soon, advocates say the resolution seeking to reaffirm that position is a divisive attempt by the party's most hardline social conservatives.
"The platform is the platform," LaSalvia said. "There is opportunity to affirm it or change it in 2016. The proposed resolution only serves as a glaring reminder that the members of the RNC are out of touch with the majority of Americans."
[Photo: Reince Priebus (Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)]