GOP marriage fight: Modest plea by first openly gay platform committee member is soundly rebuffed
There were two dramatic players in the Republican Party’s platform committee meeting Monday, July 11: Anne Dickerson and Rachel Hoff.
Dickerson repeatedly chided the committee for taking hostile swipes at the LGBT community through the party platform. Hoff implored the committee to simply acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion among Republicans on marriage for same-sex couples.
Both were soundly rebuffed.
The 112-member committee snubbed forceful appeals from Dickerson to stop attacking the LGBT community and delete hostile language in the party platform. Initially, it seemed to welcome the more quiet entreaty from Hoff to have the platform say only that the Republican Party welcomes “thoughtful conversation” about the meaning of marriage.
“In high school, I chose to be a Republican. My parents are not Republican so I was not born this way,” said Hoff, eliciting a few laughs from other members. “I chose to be a Republican because I believe in the same principles that you do—freedom, individual liberty, and limited government. I’m here 15 years later, still in this great party despite the hurtful rhetoric and stance on these issues and all I ask today is that you include me and those like me — and not exclude us — by simply acknowledging that thoughtful Republicans represent multiple views on the definition of marriage.”
Hoff noted near the beginning of her remarks that she is the first openly gay member of the Republican Party’s platform committee, which drew applause from only a few members.
The meeting, which was aired live on C-SPAN, was mostly quiet as she introduced her amendment to replace hostile language in the platform about marriage for same-sex couples with language that would acknowledge “there are diverse and sincerely held views on marriage within the party and that support for allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry has grown substantially in our own party.”
But there was no discussion and, when Hoff asked for a show of hands, the platform chair declared the amendment failed.
Earlier in the day, the committee adopted an amendment from Colorado member Justin Ever to add the word “traditional” in front of “two-parent household” in a sentence that proclaimed that children raised in a “traditional two-parent household” are physically and emotionally healthier and less like to engage in drug and alcohol use, crime, and pregnancy outside of marriage.
“This is another poke in the eye to the gay community, and it’s outrageous,” said Dickerson. “This has no place [in the platform], and continuing to suggest that a gay married couple, which is legal in our country –this is outrageous to suggest children of a gay couple are more likely to be completely imbalanced…This is so provocative…I won’t support it.”
Jesse Long of Nevada said he would oppose the amendment because he wanted the party to support “any parent who wants to raise a child.” A member who identified herself as a single mother from Nebraska said she found the amendment insulting not only to LGBT parents but to single parents.
And Hoff said it was not only a “slap in the face” of gay parents but also “a slap in the face to their children.”
The amendment passed easily by voice vote.
Dickerson introduced an amendment to strike language in the proposed platform that said the party supports the anti-gay First Amendment Defense Act “to ensure [private adoption agencies] do not face government discrimination because of their views on marriage and family.” She said the language encouraged such organizations “to turn away gay couples” and was not only unconstitutional but “blatant discrimination.”
A platform committee member from Virginia, 22-year-old Tommy Valentine, said Dickerson’s remarks amounted to calling the platform committee members bigots and that he disagrees –a remark that elicited considerable applause from the committee. Dickerson’s amendment failed on voice vote.
The platform meeting continues this week, with final debate and vote on the platform taking place during the Republican National Convention July 18-21 in Cleveland.
Please consider making a contribution to support this independent news site.