State Party Platforms: Two Steps Up, One Step Back

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com June 15 2012 5:20 PM ET

Changes are afoot in some state political party platforms regarding LGBT rights, with moves forward in Indiana and Texas, backward in North Carolina.

Last weekend the Indiana Republican Party adopted a platform that does not mention same-sex marriage, unlike the platforms it has had since at least 2006, which took that the stand that marriage should a heterosexual union only, The Indianapolis Star reports. Meanwhile, the state Democratic Party will vote tomorrow on a platform that opposes amending the Indiana constitution to define marriage, which is something anti–marriage equality activists would like to do.

Some Republican Party officials downplayed the platform change, saying it was merely a shift in focus to emphasize economic issues. “A lot of issues are covered; a lot weren’t,” said party press secretary Pete Seat. “This platform reflects the broader priorities of the Indiana Republican Party.” But Kathy Saris, a lesbian restaurateur who was on the platform committee, said the change was “a big step.” Platforms are essentially symbolic but provide a picture of the party’s priorities.

The Democratic opposition to a constitutional amendment comes as one is moving through the process necessary for adoption. Both houses of the state legislature approved an anti–marriage equality amendment last year; to become law, it must be approved again by the legislature that is elected this November, then by voters in 2014.

In Texas, Republicans removed statements from their platform opposing LGBT people adopting children or serving as scoutmasters, along with language equating homosexuality with pedophilia and a call to reinstate an antisodomy law, the Dallas Voice reports. The platform still contains an anti–marriage equality plank and “a religious condemnation of homosexuality,” said Dave Nalle, president of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

In North Carolina, the Republican Party this month adopted a platform basically saying it’s OK for the government to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It says, “Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category” to be covered by antidiscrimination law. It also opposes adoption by gay couples and says a married mother and father provide “the ideal environment for raising children.” North Carolina citizens voted in May to amend the state constitution to ban marriage or any other form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.