Society

GOP Platform: No Shift On LGBT Rights

| by Robert Fowler
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The Republican platform has been solidified and indicates the GOP has become more conservative on social issues compared to the 2012 document. The platform does not soften the party's stance on LGBT rights but instead doubles down on controversial policies.

From July 11-12, a panel comprised of 112 GOP delegates hashed out the party platform in Cleveland, Ohio. Despite a concerted effort by a handful of progressive delegates, the panel ultimately made no concessions towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The move arrives after four years of federal law broadening protections for LGBT Americans, including the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 that ruled same-sex marriage legal throughout the nation.

“This is going in only one direction, so that the platform committee of the GOP hasn’t caught up with it yet is unfortunate,” New York delegate Annie Dickerson told CNN.

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“I think in 20 years we’ll look at this as an unfortunate blot in the history of the Republican Party that there wasn’t an embrace for our brothers and sisters,” Dickerson added.

Delegates from the American Unity Fund, a Republican advocacy group funded by pro-LGBT billionaire Paul Singer, had lobbied hard for their fellow panel members to bring up measures that would moderate the Republican party’s stances on gay marriage and discrimination laws.

Instead of moderation, the Republican platform explicitly opposes same-sex marriage, calls for transgender Americans to use public restrooms that correspond with only their sex at birth and supports businesses that refuse to offer services to LGBT Americans based on religious principles.

The presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, who has exhibited a much more moderate stance on LGBT rights, exerted little influence over the platform committee, The New York Times reports.

Allowed to draft the platform with little input from the Republican nominee, delegates crafted a document that is highly conservative on social issues.

Other provisions included teaching the Bible in public schools, labeling pornography as a public health crisis and stipulating that all legislation should be driven by Christian beliefs.

Several members of the panel had an established history of anti-LGBT attitudes. Delegate Cynthia Dunbar of Virginia had previously compared the LGBT rights movement to Germany before the Holocaust, The Daily Beast reports.

Delegate Hardy Billington of Missouri had placed an advertisement in his local newspaper asserting that homosexuality was a disease that killed the afflicted “two to three times the rate of smoking.”

Several GOP delegates complained that delegates from the American Unity Fund were introducing divisive provisions for the panel to consider.

Delegate Rachel Hoff of Washington, D.C., a member of the organization who had come out as gay while urging her fellow panel members to adopt more accepting language towards LGBT families, believes that ignoring the issue is a political mistake.

“It threatens our party because we’re a party of principle, we’re a party of freedom, liberty and equality and… what future will our party have if we are so out of touch with young Americans in particular?” Hoff said.

Sources: CNN, The Daily BeastThe New York Times / Photo credit: Flickr

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