So much for that big tent — thanks to far-right activists like Tony Perkins, the 2016 Republican platform looks to be markedly anti-LGBT, including opposition to allowing transgender students to use facilities matching their gender identity.
The final platform will be adopted at the Republican National Convention next week, but a subcommittee working on a draft of it Monday approved a provision opposing the Obama administration’s guidance document advising schools how to avoid discrimination against transgender students. In the document, the Department of Education says it would be discriminatory not to allow trans student access to the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that align with their gender identity.
“The RNC draft platform says the guidance is ‘illegal and dangerous’ and ‘alien to America’s history and traditions,’” Yahoo! News reports.
Some members of the Subcommittee on Healthcare, Education and Crime tried to strip the language, the site reports. Annie Dickerson, a New York delegate who is also an adviser to billionaire Republican donor Paul Singer — a liberal on many social issues — said including the language would take the party “down a rabbit hole” and make the convention “all about bathrooms.” Tennessee delegate Connie Hunter voiced disagreement with the Department of Education’s guidance but said it would be “overkill” to include such opposition in the platform.
The language’s inclusion in the platform came partly from the efforts of Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which has been called an anti-LGBT hate group. Perkins, a delegate from his home state of Louisiana, said the platform should take this stand to support the states that are suing the Department of Education and other federal agencies over the guidance, Yahoo! News reports.
Perkins also introduced and managed to get approval for a plank supporting so-called conversion therapy, designed to turn LGBT people straight and cisgender — even though medical authorities say this practice is both ineffective and harmful. Several states and at least one city have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to such therapy, but the platform provision supports allowing parents to choose whatever therapy they feel is appropriate for their children, The New Civil Rights Movement reports.
And delegates voted to keep a plank in the platform defining marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman, according to The New Civil Rights Movement. The platform also retains support for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage; some media outlets predicted delegates would abandon this for a call for each state to have the power to define marriage. But the language adopted emphatically rejects the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and calls for it to be nullified either through the courts or a constitutional amendment. Several previous platforms also had opposed marriage equality, and Perkins has taken credit for making that language stronger in the 2012 document than in 2008’s version.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is keeping his distance from the process of drafting the platform, The New York Times reports, but he is nonetheless expected to endorse it. Trump has attempted to portray himself as “great” for LGBT people, but he has vowed to appoint Supreme Court justices who would undo marriage equality, and he has flip-flopped regarding North Carolina’s law restricting trans people’s restroom access, first denouncing it and then supporting it. And Trump, the Times notes, met last month with Perkins, James Dobson, and other major religious right activists.
The Republican convention will be held July 18-21 in Cleveland.