The Texas Republican Party doubled down on its hostility towards the LGBTQ community this past weekend by snubbing a gay Republican group at its party convention and adopting a platform that attacks both homosexuality and transgender identity.
At the state convention, held in Houston, party officials refused to set aside a table for the Log Cabin Republicans, continuing a nearly two-decade-old pattern in which the GOP excludes the largest organization of LGBTQ conservatives from setting up a space where they can educated convention-goers about their values and their political priorities.
While some members attended the convention as individuals, Log Cabin Republicans President Charles Moran criticized party officials for not engaging with LGBTQ conservatives, who are some of the Republican Party’s most loyal voters and grassroots activists.
“It’s clear that inclusion wins, which makes the Texas Republican Party leadership’s decision to exclude the Texas Log Cabin Republicans from their convention not just narrow-minded, but politically short-sighted,” Moran said in a statement, which credited former President Donald Trump as having “made clear that LGBT conservatives are welcome in the America First movement and the Republican Party.”
“Losers don’t get to change the course of our nation — only winners,” Moran added. “And inclusion wins.”
Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, criticized the party’s decision not to grant Log Cabin a booth, saying the move amounted to “canceling a group of gay conservatives who are standing in the breach with us,” reports The Washington Post.
Log Cabin, it should be noted, hasn’t shied away from blasting LGBTQ advocates who criticize Republicans. For example, the group blasted opponents of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law for criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing LGBTQ advocates of trying to usurp parental rights and expose children to sensitive or controversial issues in schools. The group also denounced a recent executive order by Joe Biden directing U.S. government agencies to protect LGBTQ individuals and their families from discrimination and counter state laws restricting LGBTQ rights, visibility, or access to resources.
While its exclusion of Log Cabin is nothing new, the refusal to give the group a space at the convention, which would allow them to advertise their work on behalf of the party, takes on added significance at a time when acknowledging the mere existence of the LGBTQ community is viewed as a “political” action.
Right-wing figures in various states have attacked the LGBTQ community, especially transgender individuals, accusing them of trying to “groom” children by speaking openly about concepts like sexual orientation and gender identity. Several state legislatures have also barred transgender youth from participating on sports teams matching their gender identity, prohibited talk about LGBTQ issues in schools, and restricted the ability of trans youth to access gender-affirming care.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order directing state agencies to investigate parents of transgender children for “child abuse” if they allow them to access gender-affirming care. The Texas Supreme Court allowed those investigations — which had been halted by a court order — to resume, but said Abbott had overstepped his authority by trying to control the scope and extent of the investigations.
Texas lawmakers attempted, but failed, to pass a law codifying Abbott’s executive order this year, but have promised to revisit a similar bill in the next legislative session. At least one lawmaker is proposing a law that would prosecute parents who bring their children to drag shows and potentially strip them of their custodial rights.
The Texas GOP also adopted anti-LGBTQ planks as part of its official platform, which reads like a laundry list of conservative priorities and statements. According to Vice magazine, ome of the platform’s declarations include the assertion that the 2020 presidential election was “illegitimate,” and calls for the repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a ban on all abortions, requiring children to be taught about the “humanity of the preborn child,” glorifying the right of Texas to secede from the union, and calling for a “convention of the states” to limit federal government’s ability to make laws.
On LGBTQ issues, the platform calls homosexuality an “abnormal lifestyle choice” that should be discouraged — including denying recognition of same-sex relationships, even if they are deemed valid or recognized in other states.
“We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin, and we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values,” the platform reads. “No one should be granted special legal status based on their LGBTQ+ identification.”
The Texas Tribune reports that at least one delegate, David Gebhart, proposed softening the anti-LGBTQ language in the platform, saying: “We are the Republican Party of Texas, not the Westboro Baptist Church.” But his suggestion was rejected, and other attendees laughed at Gebhart, booed him, and made homophobic and sexually-charged comments toward him.
The platform calls gender dysphoria “a genuine and extremely rare mental health condition,” and opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity. The platform calls for prohibiting individuals under the age of 21 from accessing gender-affirming treatments for gender dysphoria, and seeks to allow so-called “de-transitioners” to sue medical providers who performed surgery on them to help them transition and therapists who affirmed their stated gender identity. The platform also calls for therapists and people struggling with “same-sex attraction” to be allowed to engage in conversion therapy, or “reintegrative therapy.”
The platform also endorses “the fundamental right of parents to make all decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in all aspects” — except in cases where a parent decides to allow their child to socially transition or pursue gender-affirming care.
The convention resolutions and party platform are not binding and carry no force of law, but are intended to serve as goalpost for the GOP’s legislative and political priorities. The more extreme planks within the platform also illustrate how far right the Republican Party activist base has lurched on any number of issues, and what “litmus tests” may be applied to Republicans who wish to seek public office in the future, requiring them to parrot certain talking points or potentially risk defeat.
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