Gay Conservatives See Progress Beyond 2012 Platform
Despite backward-looking views in the Republican Party platform, gay conservatives and their allies report significant progress toward equality over the past decade.
BY JULIE BOLCER AUGUST 28 2012 4:00 AM ET
When the Republican Party campaigned on a federal marriage amendment in 2004, it sparked an outcry among gay members. Some defected, but those who stayed saw the developments as a call-to-arms. That year marked the first time the Log Cabin Republicans launched a television ad in its 30-year history, a “Defend the Constitution” spot that featured Vice President Dick Cheney speaking against a federal marriage policy. The group withheld its endorsement from President George W. Bush, but he won reelection with a strategy based partly on turnout for constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage in 11 states.
Gay conservatives today report similar feelings of being galvanized, but compared to eight years ago, their rallying cry includes more favorable polling, a growing list of powerful straight allies, and a rapidly evolving national conversation. As a result, some predict this year’s platform will mark the last gasps of influence for social conservatives such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
“I hope that Tony Perkins enjoyed this battle, because I think he is in the middle of losing this war, if not on the back nine, and he knows it,” said Sarah Longwell, a member of the leadership committee of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and a Log Cabin Republicans national board member. “I think you could characterize it as a tipping point,” she said.
Perkins claimed credit for the marriage plank in this year’s draft platform, criticized by some as the most antigay document to date. The language, which delegates in Tampa will approve Tuesday, includes an explicit call for a federal marriage amendment, a robust endorsement of the Defense of Marriage Act, and enthusiastic support for the multiple state campaigns underway to ban marriage equality through constitutional amendments. While this year’s platform removed a plank from 2008 about the “incompatibility of homosexuality with military service,” a section on “the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation” suggests the authors still want to challenge “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, which Congress passed two years ago with bipartisan support.