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Republicans Renew Platform of Conversion Therapy, Homophobia

Donald Trump and Mike Pence

The party has kept its platform from 2016, which opposes marriage equality and advocates for ousting trans service members.

The Republican National Committee's executive committee has voted to maintain the party's 2016 platform for 2020, with all its homophobia and transphobia intact, along with some language that's awkward for Republicans.

The platform, in addition to being full of anti-LGBTQ+ stances, is full of criticism of the "current administration" -- by which the party means President Barack Obama's administration. That, and other factors, have led some Republicans, including Donald Trump himself, to call for a new platform.

It's unlikely, though, that any document will show the party being more friendly to LGBTQ+ people. The 2016 platform was drafted with the help of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, deemed an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights watchdog. Even the Log Cabin Republicans condemned it as the most anti-LGBTQ+ platform ever.

The platform condemns marriage equality -- established nationwide by a Supreme Court ruling just a year earlier. "Five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman," the document says of the marriage equality ruling.

In a section on religious liberty, it says, "We support the right of the people to conduct their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs and condemn public officials who have proposed boycotts against businesses that support traditional marriage" -- in other words, businesses that refuse service to same-sex couples and/or LGBTQ+ individuals.

It supports "the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children," a veiled endorsement of conversion therapy, aimed at turning LGBTQ+ people straight or cisgender; many states have barred licensed therapists from subjecting minors to this practice.

It goes on to condemn the Obama administration's guidance to schools on equal treatment of transgender students, including access to the restrooms and locker rooms comporting with their gender identity. The Trump administration rescinded those guidelines early in 2017.

And without using the word "transgender," it takes a stand against "the use of the military as a platform for social experimentation," as the Obama administration had approved a policy of allowing trans military members to serve openly. But Trump announced a ban on trans service members in his first year in office, and it has now gone into effect.

The reason for just rolling over the 2016 platform was logistical, The New York Times reports. Trump will accept the party's renomination in Jacksonville, Fla., but delegates would have met in Charlotte, N.C., the original site of the convention before Trump's dispute with its Democratic governor, to adopt the platform, and party officials decided that "did not make sense," according to the Times.

Reggie Greer, LGBTQ+ vote director for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, reacted to the re-adoption of the platform with a statement denouncing Republicans' homophobia and transphobia.

"Donald Trump and Mike Pence have done everything in their power to endanger the rights and lives of LGBTQ+ people," he said. "From banning transgender service members from being able to serve their country, proposing policies to strip LGBTQ+ health care protections, allowing homeless shelters to turn away transgender people, and encouraging adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ families, and more, their barrage of attacks have not gone unnoticed. That's why our campaign recently launched the Out for Biden initiative to give voice to the millions of LGBTQ+ voters across America who have been marginalized under this Administration. When Joe Biden is president, the United States will once again stand as a beacon of hope for LGBTQ+ people in America and around the world."

Some Republican activists have called for the adoption of a new and briefer platform. Jerri Ann Henry, former executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, told Politico the party is maintaining "one of the worst platforms in terms of LGBT issues." At the other end of the spectrum, Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project called for a more anti-LGBTQ+ platform, including language opposing gender-confirmation procedures for minors.

Trump also tweeted Friday morning that the RNC should adopt a new, shorter platform -- previously his advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner had pushed for the same. Trump did not comment on specific issues.

RELATED | Jared Kushner Comes Out Against Conversion Therapy

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