Local LGBTQ GOP Group Happy With Changes to Platform, Still Has Long-Term Worries

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An early draft of the 2014 Texas Republican Party platform obtained by the San Antonio Express-News would get rid of some of its most strident anti-LGBTQ language while maintaining staunch opposition to marriage equality and any state or federal benefits for same-sex couples.

The draft also includes an endorsement of the legitimacy and availability of so called "reparative" therapy, a practice that has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Association and declared dangerous by the Pan American Health Organization. The draft also contends that "[h]omosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle."

Nevertheless, the Metroplex Republicans, a Dallas-based gay GOP organization, is pleased with the incremental changes that were made ahead of the state party convention, which began today in Fort Worth.

Previous years' platforms have stated that: "[The Republican Party of Texas] affirms[s] that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit."

"There is a change afoot within the party, the Republican Party has been dominated in Texas by social conservatives for 30 years," Metroplex Republicans Vice President Rudy Oeftering says. "It's an aging, Anglo population that's at the forefront of that."

As Texas Republican voters become less white and less heterosexual, by virtue of simple demographics, the party has to change if it wants to stay in power, Oeftering says.

The Metroplex Republicans, and the Log Cabin Republicans -- the most prominent national gay GOP organization -- were both denied booths at the convention. The shut out groups held a press conference in front of a pair of locked doors at the Fort Worth Convention Center last Thursday, drawing attention to their exclusion and the line about "tearing at the fabric of society" as well as, Oeftering believes, setting the potential changes in motion.

"We said, 'here we go, you want to deny us a booth because we're homosexuals, now the whole world's going to know that this idiotic language is in the party platform," he says. "They wouldn't have taken it out had we not done that."

Oeftering is disappointed at the endorsement of reparative therapy, something that's new to this year's platform, but says the changes that are likely to be made are more than he thought would happen.

"I thought that removing that horrible language from the party platform would be a floor fight to the death that we were going to probably lose," he says. "To get a phone call from inside the [platform] committee room that they had already taken it out and that the members of the State Republican Executive Committee were tripping over themselves to keep it out [was a surprise]."

If convention delegates reinsert the language before the platform is accepted Saturday night or the party fails to evolve further, Oeftering believes there will be dire consequences for the Texas GOP.

"That's the fundamental problem of the Republican Party right now, we've got to change before the state turns blue," he says. "I'm a Republican, I want the state to stay Republican and I'm nearly sure it's not going to under the current model."

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