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Same-sex marriage (SSM) & the GOP 2012 platform

2012-JUN to AUG: DC state committee approves SSM.
Draft wording of National Committee. Webmaster's
comments. Debate.

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We use the acronym "SSM" throughout this section to represent "same-sex marriage"
We use the acronym "LGBT" to refer to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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2012-JUN-28: DC: The first Republican state committee favors legalization of SSM:

The District of Columbia Republican Committee became the first GOP state party to break with tradition and add language to their platform that promotes same-sex marriage. The plank reads:

"We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect."

Robert Turner II, chairperson of the D.C. Republican Committee said that the plank received widespread support within the state. He said:

"I was delighted that the Platform Committee included this inclusive language on equality. ... We are excited to be a part of a state party who understands that inclusion wins. Marriage equality is settled law here in the District.  All citizens, including LGBT citizens should be treated equally.”,"

Christian Berle, deputy executive director of Log Cabin Republicans -- a pro-LGBT national group -- commented:

"The D.C. Republican Committee has long been on the leading edge of inclusion within the Republican Party, and now the state party platform reflects that commitment to treating everyone with dignity and respect. The Log Cabin Republicans’ D.C. chapter has done tremendous work in getting this language passed, and Chairman Bob Kabel deserves credit for putting together a platform we can all be proud of." 7

However, the Republican National Committee took a dim view of the DC state committee's action.

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2012-AUG: The Republican Party national platform opposes marriage equality:

The draft wording by the GOP subcommittee is:

"Marriage and the Judiciary: A serious threat to our country's constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved for other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several states. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is 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."

"Defense of Marriage: That is why congressional Republicans took the lead in enacting the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of States and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships licensed in other jurisdictions. An activist judiciary usurps the powers reserved to other branches of government and endangers the foundations of our 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 [the Defense of Marriage Act] DOMA in the courts -- makes a mockery of the President's inaugural oath. We commend the Unites States House of Representatives and those States Attorneys General who have defended these laws when they have been attacked in the courts. We affirm our support for a [Federal] constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so."

"Marriage: The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society. Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation. It has been proven by both experience and endless social science studies that marriage is best for children. Children raised in intact married families are more likely to attend college, are physically and emotionally healthier, are less likely to use drugs or alcohol, are less likely to engage in crime, and are less likely to get pregnant outside of marriage. The success of marriage directly impacts the economic well being of individuals. Furthermore the future of marriage affects freedom. The lack of family formation not only leads to more government costs, but also more government control over the lives of its citizens in all facets. We recognize and honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the many burdens of parenting alone, evan as we believe that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage and promote through laws governing marriage. We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity." 1

Webmaster's comments:

The final sentence is an obvious add-on that disrupts the flow of the rest of the text in the platform. After three paragraphs during which loving, committed same-sex couples were denigrated and not considered worthy of marriage, that sentence was added, at the request of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay-positive group within the GOP.

The section on the Judiciary is curious. It would seem to imply that federal courts should be not allowed to interpret whether a given law -- such as a state's marriage act(s) -- is constitutional. If the federal court system -- including the U.S. Supreme Court -- is not permitted to perform this interpretation, it is not clear to what agency of government would the Republican Party give that power.

The last time that the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage was in 1967 when it declared marriage laws in a contiguous group of southern states to be unconstitutional, and thus legalized interracial marriages throughout the U.S. Although opposed by the vast majority of American adults at the time, that decision turned out rather well for the couples concerned. It is doubtful that many Americans would prefer that interracial marriages be once more banned.

The subcommittee's draft wording on Marriage is a powerfully written section. It is true that "children raised in intact married families" on average are more likely to thrive early in life and succeed later in life. Numerous studies have compared children raised by two married parents with other children raised by a single unmarried parent. On average, they have found benefits to having two married parents in the family. Apparently, the authors of the draft platform failed to realize that these benefits for children would extend also to families led by same-sex parents if SSM were universally legalized. Marriage surrounds children and their parents with greater protection, stability, and status.

All that would be required to have an inclusive section on marriage that honors all loving committed couples with equal "respect and dignity" would be to remove the phrase "the union of one man and one woman" and replace it with something like "the union of two committed persons." Then, the Republican platform would be supportive of all marriages and express appreciation to all couples who are willing to make a lifetime commitment to each other and to their children.

Waymon Hudson, writing for the Huffington Post blog, said:

"To be perfectly clear, the Republican Party platform not only opposes basic rights for LGBT people but erases the very idea of our families. The underlying message in the language is that only heterosexual couples with children are 'families,' while any other make-up outside that antiquated notion (including same-sex couples with children) simply aren't 'real' families. In fact, the social science they refer to by 'intact married families' absolutely includes same-sex couples raising children, yet the GOP seeks to use distortion to erase our very existence." 2

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2012-AUG-21: Debate on the Republican platform on civil unions and SSM:

A committee of just over 100 members met to finalize the party platform for later adoption by the entire convention.

Barbara Ann Fenton (R-RI) proposed that a plank be added to recognize civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. She said:

"As a Roman Catholic, there’s nobody in this room who believes [more than I do] that the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman. But those are my religious beliefs, and this country was founded on the separation of church and state. ... At 31, I don’t see people because of the color of their skin and I don’t recognize them by their sexuality. For my own generation, a lot of times homosexuality is not the biggest deal in the world. And that’s OK."

In response:

  • Sharee Langenstein (R-IL) said: "Our party has always been the party of defending traditional marriage. We need to continue being the party that defends traditional marriage." She apparently believes, as do many other religious and social conservatives, that the recognition of loving committed relationships is a "zero sum" institution. That is, she believes that it is impossible to support same-sex civil unions without denigrating opposite-sex marriages in some way.

  • Jim Bopp (R-IN) referred to civil unions as "counterfeit marriage." He said: "... The recognition of marriage between a man and a woman -- when the government does that -- has nothing to do with the separation of church and state."

  • Themis Klarides (R-CT) had voted in favor of civil unions in her Legislature. She said: "I don’t think this diminishes or degrades marriage. My parents have been married over 55 years, and I believe in that institution. ... But I think those terms have been commingled for so long that we’ve lost the difference between civil and religious [unions]." 5

The plank was defeated.

Pat Kerby, a Republican delegate from Nevada, introduced a libertarian amendment to the draft platform that would have removed the party's support for DOMA and supported a traditional Republican value: civil liberties. The amendment stated:

"For thousands of years, virtually every civilization has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values. That being said, and while we oppose any attempt by the judiciary to legislate from the bench, Republicans recognize that the role of government is to protect the rights of the individual. In a free society, we must accept the rights of others to live in ways we cannot condone. As long as there is no infringements on the rights of others, it is not the role of government to judge." 3

Another Nevada delegate, Cynthia Kennedy, supported the amendment. She argued on behalf of a young conservative group, suggesting that:

"The freedom to marry is in line with our core belief in limited government and individual freedom. To quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, 'Freedom means freedom for everyone'." 3

She expressed concern that the GOP risked losing conservative youth over time. She said:

"They are Republicans, and they should not be condemned for their desire to have civil unions. And as had been said in many pages here about a union being the best environment in which to raise children, a couple union, these people also deserve to raise children as a couple." 4

Kerby's suggestion was opposed by Kris Kobach, the Attorney General of Kansas and an advisor to Mitt Romney on immigration policy. He said:

"I oppose this amendment, I think the wording is too broad. Especially the last sentence: 'As long as there are no infringements on the rights of others, It is not the role of government to judge.' Well, our government routinely judges situations where you might regard people completely affecting themselves like, for example, the use of controlled substances, like, for example, polygamy that is voluntarily entered into. We condemn those activities even though they’re not hurting other people, at least directly. So this [amendment] is worded way too broadly for inclusion..." 4

This plank was not approved either.

Since the platform does not support civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples, by default, it will promote the recognition of loving committed relationships between same-sex persons only as roommates  -- as "legal strangers." This position matches the opinion of Republicans generally. A CBS poll conducted in 2012-MAY showed that 49% of Republicans feel that the government should give no recognition at all to same-sex couples. 46% favor some form of recognition (9% would prefer allowing SSM; 37% favor civil unions). 6 Perhaps by the time of the 2016 convention, a slim majority of Republicans will favor some for of recognition of same-sex relationships, and the topic will be addressed again by their future platform committee.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

These information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Zeke Miller & Chris Geidner, "Exclusive: GOP Platform Draft Strongly Defends 'Traditional Concept Of Marriage'," BuzzFeed, 2012-AUG-20, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/
  2. Waymon Hudson, "Election 2012: Party Platforms Highlight Stark Differences in Democratic and Republican Positions on LGBT Equality, Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-14, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  3. "LGBT advocates take aim at polygamy, drug use comments," f3v3r Magazine, 2012-AUG-22, at: http://f3v3r.com/
  4. Andrew Kirell, "Romney Advisor Argues Against Civil Unions In GOP Platform, Likens Homosexuality To Drug Use," Mediaite, 2012-AUG-21, at: http://www.mediaite.com/
  5. James Hohmann, "GOP platform committee rejects civil unions," Politico, 2012-AUG-21, at: http://www.politico.com/
  6. Tucker Reals, "Poll: Most Americans support same-sex unions," CBS News, 2012-MAY-14, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  7. Michael K. Lavers, "D.C. Republican Committee adds LGBT-inclusive language to platform," Washington Blade, 2012-JUN-29 at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2012-AUG-26
Latest update: 2012-SEP-12
Author: B.A. Robinson
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