A platform subcommittee proved that fact once again Tuesday by adopting planks that Tony Perkins of the hate group known as the Family Research Council took credit for.
In a more explicitly anti-gay stance than in previous years, the 2012 GOP platform reiterates support for a “constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman” as well as “campaigns underway in several other states to” amend their constitutions to define marriage as purely a heterosexual union. The platform also specifically criticizes President Barack Obama's decision to stop defending in court the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples. A number of amendments, including one in support of civil unions for both straight and gay partners, were rejected.
It's hard to believe that gay Republicans and their supporters expected anything different given the overall tone of the party these days. Nonetheless, while stating the truism that platforms don't actually have a great impact on policy, Log Cabin Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said in a press release:
"Tony Perkins may be boasting today about having written an antigay marriage plank into the Republican Party platform, but it will be a hollow and short-lived victory. The obsessive exclusion of gay couples, including military families, from the rights and responsibilities of marriage, combined with bizarre rhetoric about ‘hate campaigns’ and ‘the homosexual rights agenda’ are clear signs of desperation among social conservatives who know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality.Well, sure. Just as in the greater population, generational demographics within the GOP are bending toward support for marriage equality and other civil rights issues affecting the LGBT community. Translation: Stubborn anti-gay Republicans will eventually die and the majority of the party's youth will cast off the prejudices of the past. And choose to back freedom. Eventually.
Unfortunately, what voters can’t see in this document is the significant debate within the Committee. We were pleased to see vigorous debate on amendments in support of civil unions and to delete language regarding DOMA. While these measures failed, the future direction of our party clearly trends toward inclusion."
But the current trend has yet to reverse itself in the GOP. It shouldn't be forgotten that demographic trends don't mean that every person under 35 accepts marriage equality and full civil rights for gays, lesbians and transgender persons. In the overall U.S. population, Gallup says that about two-thirds do. But that one-third who don't are undoubtedly heavily represented in Republican ranks. Every generation has its retrogrades. While younger Republicans are no doubt more likely to support gay civil rights than older ones, as proved this year by the efforts on the platform subcommittee by Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, there is no evidence that the party's "eventually" is just around the corner.
Cooper's view that 2012 may well mark the last time the party's platform will kowtow to the Family Research Council would make Pollyanna blush. As long as the folks who equate opposition to civil unions with opposition to drug abuse and polygamy keep getting the applause and the planks, the party will remain in the dark ages.
Eventually, in a decade or two or three, the leaders of the Republican Party (instead of outlying dissidents within the party) will come to favor marriage equality. In the meantime, people who support it as well as the full platter of civil rights for every American, including LGBTs, already have a party to vote for.