A Review of the Republican State Platforms Finds Widespread Antigay Bias
By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com August 29 2012 3:00 AM ET
The Republican Party’s national platform, released Tuesday, and its planks don’t bode well for LGBT Americans. Republicans would continue to endorse the Defense of Marriage Act as well as a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage while arguing that advancement of rights "is an assault on the foundations of our society."
"This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals," the platform says of courtroom fights over the constitutionality of marriage equality. "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."
The plank on social issues, which Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council claims to have written himself, targets the Obama adminstration for supporting LGBT rights in a number or arenas. “The current 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 DOMA in the courts — makes a mockery of the President’s inaugural oath,” it states.
And a review of the country's Republican state platforms shows they are collectively like the national platform — overwhelmingly biased against LGBT Americans.
Nearly half of the 2012 Republican state platforms are now available online, offering the public cross-country access to the party’s political stances and their corresponding rationale. Apart from Washington, D.C., which has amended its platform to call for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, nearly every state platform rigidly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Other exceptions include the platforms of Indiana and Wisconsin, which refrain from addressing the issue of marriage altogether.
Many platforms offer rationales for their opposition to same-sex marriage. The California platform, for example, adopts the “history and tradition” argument, asserting, “The family is a foundation upon which American society has grown and prospered for over 200 years. We support the two-parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe it is important to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.”
Other state platforms adopt a religious defense. Arkansas, Oregon, and Texas specifically mention God or “divine” ordinance as a reason to oppose same-sex unions. Whereas most states file their beliefs under a “Family” or “Marriage” heading, Texas devotes an entire section to the subject of “Homosexuality” that expands its justifications to include majority rule:
“We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle, in public policy, nor should ‘family’ be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’”
South Carolina, under a section titled “To Insure Domestic Tranquility,” reaffirms this reasoning and also “reject[s] the notion that marriage may legitimately be redefined based upon cultural preferences.” The Iowa Republican platform, meanwhile, advocates that the judges who helped create their state’s “so-called right to homosexual marriage” be impeached. The religious right partly succeeded in that effort in 2008 when it unseated three of those judges, and a fourth is targeted this year.
In addition to same-sex marriage, the Republican platforms of California, Iowa, Louisiana (2008), Oklahoma (2011), and South Carolina also have specific stipulations against adoption by LGBT couples. Oklahoma goes so far as to state that “those promoting homosexuality or other aberrant lifestyles should not be allowed to hold responsible positions over children, which are not their own, or other vulnerable persons.” This position could be used to prevent an LGBT person from caring for an elderly or infirm family member. “We believe that homosexuality is not a genetic trait, but a chosen lifestyle,” argues the platform. “No adoption privileges therefore, will be afforded homosexuals.”
“We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle,” states the California platform. Minnesota, whose list of subjects to be banned includes bisexuality, transgenderism, and human sexuality in general, proposes an alternative curriculum: “K-12 public school teachers teach about sexual abstinence, that premarital sex and extramarital sex is wrong, and that the use of contraceptives is not safe sex.”
Oklahoma merely opposes the portrayal of LGBT people “in a positive light” in public schools. In addition, its platform states that, “HIV shall be presented as incurable and fatal.” The platform also opposes “the elimination of laws against sodomy.”
Within their platforms, Texas and Louisiana give written endorsements for the Boy Scouts of America, which has come under fire from human rights groups, and most recently, President Obama, for its discriminatory policies. According to the Louisiana platform, the organization, “defend[s] moral decency and freedom according to [its] own well-established traditions and beliefs.”
The platforms of Minnesota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina specifically address transgender issues. South Carolina in particular opposes “efforts to blur or disregard the uniqueness of male and female genders” for the reason that “gender is fixed at birth,” and says that “no citizen should be entitled to special treatment or accorded any special benefits not accorded to others of the same birth gender regardless of how they have altered their anatomy or appearance.”
In addition, Oklahoma is up in arms over the current state of the military, and proposes measures that would prevent “the erosion of our military’s readiness through: a. ‘Gender-norming’ for training and promotion, b. Co-ed basic training and housing, c. ‘Sensitivity training’ that supports or promotes the homosexual lifestyle, and d. Openly practicing homosexuals serving in the military.” Minnesota supports the reinstatement of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, while Texas goes so far as to assert “the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.”
Even Alfred Kinsey, the famed human sexuality researcher, doesn’t escape the crossfire. “We also support federal efforts to scientifically challenge the (Alfred) Kinsean model of American Human sexuality, which, since 1948, has propagated as ‘normal’ an indiscriminate and promiscuous view of human sexual behavior,” states the South Carolina platform, which also opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it would “coerce business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.” The last quote is extracted from the 2010 Texas platform.
Which isn’t to say that other states don’t share these stances. Many simply link to the Republican national platform. On the bright side, Log Cabin Republicans were proud to tell BuzzFeedthat the platform would include language stating, “We embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity.” Log Cabin leaders deemed that a “positive nod” toward LGBT people.