Some things are as sure as death and taxes -- and one of them is that the Texas Republican Party's platform will be virulently anti-LGBT, but this year's list of its priorities may be its most hateful yet.
At its biennial convention last weekend in San Antonio, the party adopted a platform that again endorses "ex-gay" therapy, as it has since 2014, as well as supporting business owners' right to discriminate against anyone who offends their religious sensibilities. It makes a new call for the state to repeal its hate-crimes law and opposes all efforts to recognize transgender people's identity.
Texas Republican politicians aren't required to take all the positions the platform enumerates, but the document does provide insight into the party leaders' thinking -- and that thinking is uniformly hostile to LGBT people.
As it did in 2016, the platform says the party believes in "self-sufficient families, founded on the traditional marriage of a natural man and a natural woman" and calls for the overturning of the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling. And it repeats language from previous platforms about so-called conversion therapy: "No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to sexual orientation counseling for self-motivated youth and adults."
The 2018 platform includes new language on "religious freedom for business owners," saying, "We support the removal of laws and regulations that are used to force business owners and employees to violate their sincerely held beliefs." As in previous platforms, it opposes "any law that requires any private business or individual to create or provide a custom product or service, or any kind of expressive work, or enter into a contract, or be coerced into any speech that is not their own," obviously a reference to business owners who don't want to provide cakes, flowers, or other goods or services for same-sex weddings.
Where the platform really amps up its vitriol is on transgender issues. "The official position of the Texas schools with respect to transgenderism is that there are only two genders: male and female," the document says. In another section, it asserts, "We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity. We call upon our legislature to enact laws prohibiting the use of hormones before the age of 18 in an attempt to change gender. We believe it should be illegal to remove healthy body parts in minors in an effort to try to transition to the opposite sex."
It also says, "Transgendered persons should not serve in the military as a special class; no special considerations or medical treatment shall be required or offered." It further expands on previous language calling for restricting trans people's access to gender-specific restrooms and changing rooms: "We support enacting legislation in the State of Texas ensuring no government entity in the state be allowed to take it upon itself to define for any private business or private entity how it must segregate its restrooms, changing facilities, or showers."
And on hate crimes, it says, "We urge the complete repeal of the Hate Crimes Law since ample laws are currently in effect to punish criminal behavior towards other persons." Texas's law addresses hate crimes based on sexual orientation and several other characteristics, although not gender identity.
And the platform includes the usual condemnation of homosexuality and the assertion that gay people want "special rights," saying, "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."
Some younger delegates to the convention got the party to remove an even more homophobic statement -- "Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible." After some discussion in the platform committee, that statement didn't make it into the final version, the Houston Chronicle reports.
"How can we keep growing our Republican base when we are telling wide swaths of people that we don't want them, their friends and their families?" said 26-year-old Justin Clark, who pushed for the language's removal, according to the Chronicle.
But many old-school Republicans were just fine with the anti-LGBT platform, which also includes typical staunch positions against abortion, taxes, and regulations, and for guns. Some, like Jack M. Finger, even thought it wasn't quite anti-LGBT enough. "If you agree with the homosexual lifestyle, it is the antithesis to what we believe in," he told the Chronicle.