GOP Delegates Draft Conservative Party Platform Ahead Of Convention

Jul 13, 2016
Originally published on July 13, 2016 7:23 pm
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In this country, Republicans are in the final countdown to their convention next week in Cleveland, and delegates have drafted a party platform. Its authors are conservative, and many of them are party activists. And that is reflected in the tone of the platform. It makes no concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues. NPR's Brian Naylor reports from Cleveland.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Four years ago the Republican Party Platform called state court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage an assault on the foundations of our society. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court backed the right of same-sex couples to wed. But this week members of the party's platform committee rejected all attempts to sound a more moderate tone on the matter. James Bopp is a GOP delegate from Indiana and a prominent conservative attorney.

JAMES BOPP: We believe that a man and a woman family is the best, the ideal vehicle for raising children.

NAYLOR: Bopp and most other delegates supported language in this year's platform that says children, quote, "deserve a married mom and dad" and refers to, quote, "natural marriage" as between a man and a woman.

BOPP: So it's an ideal that we want to advocate for, and our concern in particular has nothing to do with whether or not gays are getting married but the fact that we now have 40 percent of the births in the United States by girls and women who are not married.

NAYLOR: A handful of members of the platform committee unsuccessfully sought to eliminate language like natural marriage. Among them was Rachel Hoff, a delegate from Washington, D.C., who is the first openly gay member of the platform committee. Hoff says the platform is not only a statement of principles but a marketing device for the party, and as such, she says, it's failing.

RACHEL HOFF: I certainly think that we're alienating and turning away the LGBT community who may consider voting Republican. We're certainly alienating members of the Republican Party who are in the LGBT community and bravely out in that way. But we're also alienating young voters.

NAYLOR: But delegate Leslie Rutledge, who is Arkansas's attorney general, says gays and lesbians are welcome in the party.

LESLIE RUTLEDGE: And what we heard from those who spoke out against certain amendments was not necessarily against the LGBT community. It was against including any specific groups. I believe - you know, I have many friends and close friends that are LGBT and that we must reach out to. They are Republicans, and so we are a big tent party.

NAYLOR: Polls show a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, and presumptive nominee Donald Trump has expressed more moderate views on those issues as well. The platform committee chairman, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, however, says Trump exerted little influence on the committee's actions.

JOHN BARRASSO: He has not really tried to weigh in on the platform. I'd said from the beginning this was going to be a conservative platform reflecting the views and the values and the vision of the Republican Party, and I think we stayed true to that.

NAYLOR: Trump will certainly be comfortable with other provisions in the platform. There's a call for building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Another says people entering the U.S. from terrorist-sponsoring countries should be subject to special scrutiny. The platform will be formally voted on by Republican delegates at the start of their convention on Monday. Brian Naylor, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.