In a sign that things are changing in the Republican Party, even in the heart of the most conservative part of the country, a group of activist Republicans in Texas have come out strongly in opposition to three planks in their state party platform which oppose equal rights for gay citizens.
Coming in the wake of the defeat of the religious right at the party's state convention and the election of Steve Munisteri as a new, more reform-oriented Chairman for the Texas GOP two weeks ago, this signals that more change is on the way for Republicans in a state which the Obama political machine has targeted as one of their top priorities in the next two elections. Democrats hope to turn Texas from red to blue, but the newly revitalized and more inclusive Republican party is organizing to stop them.
One stumbling block to this has been a party platform which seems to have been assembled by a committee with no filtering ability whatsoever, including every extremist idea supported by every small but vocal pressure group in the state. It's a platform which most Republicans can't really agree on and which candidates certainly can't run on. It endorses conspiracy theories, is hostile to minority groups, and promotes theocracy and intolerance. It's a document no candidate wants to have to defend in a debate or an advertising campaign.
Focusing primarily on the issue of gay rights, the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas has come up to an answer to this problem. In a recent press release objecting to platform planks which propose restoring the sodomy law, denying gay parents custody rights, and making marrying a same-sex couple a felony, they propose a solution which would also address the entire broader issue of the party's unappealing platform.
Since the platform cannot be officially revised or replaced until the next party convention in 2012, they are urging the party leadership to issue a clear declaration that the platform is non-binding on candidates and does not represent the core beliefs of the party or its candidates. This runs directly opposite from proposals made during the convention, but not acted on, that candidates be required to publicly endorse the platform in some way. Having seen the platform, many party leaders are recoiling from that idea, and the alternative proposal from the Republican Liberty Caucus may gain support instead.
The issue of anti-gay wording in the platform has already gained negative publicity in the state and national media. Left-leaning online news sources like RawStory have condemned it for gay rights and other issues. Gay media like DallasVoice have expressed their outrage. The Log Cabin Republicans have spoken out against it. Most significantly the national media is picking the story up and that is resulting in some very unwanted attention, including a public statement from the Human Rights Campaign demanding that the Republican National Committee take action.
In the face of this growing media firestorm, the quiet press release from libertarian-leaning activists within the Texas GOP may go unnoticed, but their suggestion of the quick release of a simple statement from the State Republican Executive Committee and the Chairman absolving Texas Republicans of any allegiance to the party platform may be the wisest course and the easiest out for the party. The truth is that the platform has been allowed to get to this state because it has traditionally been largely ignored by candidates and neglected by the party organization, and making that disregard of the platform into official policy might be the best way to salvage a situation which is becoming a national embarrassment for the Republican Party in Texas and nationwide.Powered by Sidelines