Broadly speaking, the Republican Party has made tremendous strides when it comes to gay acceptance over the last decade. In fact, a strong majority of GOP voters now support anti-discrimination protections for gay people, and a slim majority now support same-sex marriage as well. But this progress has been uneven, and in some places, intolerance and bigotry still reign within the GOP.
Texas is the prime example, unfortunately. The Texas state GOP just made waves for its decision to prohibit the Texas Log Cabin Republicans, a group representing LGBT Republicans, from having a booth at its convention. This decision is counterproductive and backward. A party truly about individual freedom and liberty should have room in its tent for both religious conservatives with traditional views on homosexuality and gay Republicans.
What’s more, a political party’s job is to win elections, and the Texas GOP is openly rejecting a group that wants to support them, agrees with them on most issues, and wants to defeat the Democrats, all because they can’t stomach the thought of having gay people in their party.
I wonder how that will play out with LGBT voters in the next state election?
“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,” Log Cabin Republicans President Charles Moran said .
Donald Trump Jr. also condemned the Texas GOP’s counterproductive decision.
“The Texas GOP should focus its energy on fighting back against the radical Democrats and weak RINOs currently trying to legislate our 2nd Amendment rights away, instead of canceling a group of gay conservatives who are standing in the breach with us,” he said .
They’re both right. But arguably much worse than the party’s unjustified decision to prohibit Log Cabin is the anti-gay, archaic language in its latest platform :
“Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice. 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.”
There are so many problems with this.
Whether homosexuality is “abnormal” depends on what the Texas GOP means. It is not the norm, sure, but roughly 1 in 14 adults self-identify as LGBT. (A much higher percentage admit to same-sex attraction.) Whether something is typical or not isn’t worthy of any moral judgment. Left-handed people are uncommon but in no meaningful way inferior to right-handed people.
As for whether gay people deserve “special legal entitlements,” all we’re actually asking for is equal rights granted to religious people. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religion, which actually is a choice, and all gay people want is the same rights for homosexuality, which is more akin to an inherent characteristic such as race than it is religion.
The Texas GOP platform goes on to talk about marriage, saying, “We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman.” This seems weird and improper. Politics in America is supposed to be about the role of government and public policy, with religious differences left to civic life.
Here’s how I would rewrite the Texas GOP’s platform on this issue:
“We believe that in America, gay people and traditionalist people of faith can live side-by-side despite holding fundamentally different beliefs. LGBT Americans and religious Americans should enjoy equal rights, and neither should have their fundamental right to liberty infringed upon. We believe the government should stay out of the marriage business and that different churches should be able to decide for themselves what definition of marriage they will embrace and not be forced in either direction.”
Of course, I’m not a Texan. But party platforms are written by delegates, who tend to be hyperactive political people much more extreme than the average party member. So I suspect the Texas GOP’s stance on these issues is almost certainly more extreme than the average Texan would agree with and even probably significantly to the right of most Texas Republicans. But I know for a fact that it is wildly unrepresentative of where young Republicans and the GOP nationally are.
The Texas GOP needs to get with the 21st century — or history and future elections alike won’t be kind to it.