Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is denying his party is anti-LGBT, claiming its platform doesn't embrace "ex-gay" therapy and saying gay businessman Peter Thiel is welcome in the party.
In an interview with the Associated Press leading up to the Republican convention, which opens Monday in Cleveland, Priebus claimed that a controversial plank in the draft platform, to be voted on at the convention, is an endorsement of "ex-gay" or "conversion" therapy, designed to turn LGBT people straight and cisgender.
The plank, pushed by Family Research Council president and convention delegate Tony Perkins, reads, "We support the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children." Several states and at least one city have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to "ex-gay" therapy, and the plank appears to be aimed at such bans. But Priebus contended the plank is not an endorsement of this type of therapy, which has been condemned by medical groups as ineffective and harmful.
Priebus said the party also welcomes Thiel, who is set to speak at the convention. "I can't win this race if I tell people that they're not welcome in our party," he told the AP. "He's been a good help to our party and many candidates across the country. He's a good Republican. He's welcome in our party. Period."
That doesn't change the fact, though, that opposition to marriage equality is still "one of the bedrock issues of our party," Priebus said. "We're still a party that believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, but it doesn't mean that we're going to kick people out," he added.
The platform calls for reversing marriage equality through either a constitutional amendment or a new Supreme Court decision. It further opposes the Department of Education's recommendation that schools allow transgender students access to the locker rooms, restrooms, and other facilities that align with their gender identity. The platform has been condemned by the Log Cabin Republicans as the most anti-LGBT ever.