The political platform (pdf) of the California Republican Party states: “We oppose any special rights based on sexual or behavioral rights” and defines “marriage as being between one man and one woman.” In case the message isn't clear, the platform also affirms: “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”
That hasn't stopped the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization, from seeking formal recognition as a chartered volunteer group by the state GOP for the past decade. And now they have it.
By an 861-293 vote, the state GOP officially sanctioned the 38-year-old group at its biannual gathering of the party faithful over the weekend. The vote not only reflects changing attitudes among Republican voters nationally—30% now approve of same-sex marriage, up from 21% in 2001—but an added sensitivity to the politics of being a shrinking minority member of state government.
Log Cabin California former Chairman Charles Moran told the Los Angeles Times, “The left will not be able to say to us anymore, ‘The Republican Party doesn’t want you.’ ”
It is perhaps one thing to be wanted and another to be accepted. John Briscoe, president of the socially conservative California Republican Assembly (CRA), amplified the conflict. “I have a hard time understanding how we’re going to charter an organization that’s in opposition to our platform,” he said.
That’s the way it is for now. The convention ended Sunday with the 2012-2016 platform intact, but religious rights activist Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, warned the convention that change was coming and it would be “watered down in terms of family values.” The one-paragraph in the platform condemning homosexuality is in the “Family” section.
The quest for recognition of gays by the Republican Party has always seemed quixotic to outside observers who have trouble reconciling a strong desire by an oppressed minority to seek inclusion in a group noted for its non-inclusive regard for “the other.”
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (championed by Republicans) in 2013, setting off a cascade of state decisions to remove barriers against same-sex marriage. At the same time, the justices also drove a stake through the heart of California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative voters passed in 2008 that barred gay marriage. Exit polls (pdf) showed that 81% of Republican voters favored the proposition, compared to 30% of Democrats.
But through the long, successful fight to overcome the bias, fear, ignorance and hatred that generated such loathsome policies, Log Cabin Republicans chose not to urge reparative therapy as a cure for deeply troubled Republicans, but rather, to join them.