GOP Platform Debate Ends With Good News for Conservatives

Photo credit: PBS NewsHour via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: PBS NewsHour via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

After two days of debate, the Republican Party’s platform committee has approved a draft of the 2016 Republican platform, to be sent to the general convention for approval next week.

Social conservatives have been nervously watching the news from Cleveland, hoping the Republican Party platform committee would stay true to principle as it made decisions on LGBT issues important to the conservative agenda. However, despite a well-financed attempt to water down the GOP’s stances on these issues, conservatives will be glad to note the platform committee largely defeated these efforts.

Here were some highlights from this week’s debate:

Same-sex marriage

Billionaire LGBT activist Paul Singer is bankrolling a group called the American Unity Fund, which has attempted to gain more influence for social liberals in the GOP’s decision-making process regarding the platform. One of the major goals of pro-traditional marriage delegates yesterday was to prevent any watering down of the platform.

Even though the socially liberal Republicans’ proposal to introduce language to the platform more supportive of same-sex marriage was defeated in committee, they still brought up their proposal in the plenary session.

One pro-same-sex marriage delegate argued the GOP “is a party of addition and not subtraction. Stop repelling gays, for God’s sake.”

Ultimately, however, the insurgents were defeated, and the proposed platform remains strong on marriage issues.

“I think it only hurts us, and it shrinks our tent,” said Annie Dickerson, a New York delegate and ally of Singer. “I think this is a state issue. A lot of states, local municipalities, and schools who have transgender students have dealt with this issue rightfully at the local level.”

Other delegates were happier with the outcome.

“I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I had heard that somebody was spending $6 million to get LGBT stuff into the platform,” Kansas delegate Mary Culp told The Daily Signal. “I would say that the effort fizzled.”

Abortion

The GOP platform approved yesterday also includes language that is perhaps the most pro-life in the party’s history.

Earlier this election season, Donald Trump said that he “absolutely” would change the platform to include exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. However, the platform committee quickly stopped any talk of backing down on life.

The platform now includes the full text of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion.

“Today, conservative, forward-thinking Republicans strengthened their party’s platform when it came to life, marriage, and religious freedom. The pro-life wording of the platform is the strongest that it has ever been in the history of the Republican Party,” American Principles Project executive director Terry Schilling said in a statement.

Education

The platform committee also addressed education issues during deliberations on Monday.

One amendment that passed the committee states the party’s opposition to universal prekindergarten programs, of the sort Hillary Clinton supports, because the delegates view it as an undue intrusion into the life of the American family.

It was also reported that the platform was amended to support “a new amendment to the Constitution that would give parents the right to direct their children’s education.”

Pornography

Another topic of discussion for the platform committee was internet pornography. North Carolina delegate Mary Frances Forrester was successful in adding an amendment to the draft identifying it as a public health problem. It passed with little debate.

“The internet must not become a safe haven for predators,” the provision states. “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and well-being. We applaud the social networking sites that bar sex offenders from participation. We urge energetic prosecution of child pornography which closely linked to human trafficking.”

Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.