Much was made this week of the Texas Republican Party’s minuscule change to its platform concerning homosexuality. In a story Tuesday, The Dallas Morning News shared with readers a triumphant account of how the Texas Log Cabin Republicans pushed the party to stop saying that being gay is a choice.
Thanks to the efforts of the conservative LGBTQ group, gone is this statement from the 2016 platform: "Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has [sic] been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations [sic] founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples."
In its place: "We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman, which has proven to be the foundation for all great nations in Western Civilization. We oppose homosexual marriage, regardless of state of origin. We urge the Texas Legislature to pass religious liberty protections for individuals, businesses, and government officials who believe marriage is between one man and one woman."
Like the mountain in Aesop's fable, the Texas GOP seems to have labored mightily to give birth to a mouse. Consider what's still in the platform: It still advocates for gay "conversion therapy." It opposes "all efforts to validate transgender identity.” One of its legislative priorities is to continue its push for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s “bathroom bill” aimed at regulating which public toilets trans people can use. The platform still is against "any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
To LGBTQ advocates other than the Log Cabin Republicans, the platform carries the political horrors and discrimination that have always been there.
Equality Texas, a left-leaning pro-LGBTQ group, did not even notice the "small steps" the Texas Log Cabin Republicans won last weekend in San Antonio. Equality Texas wants to see precise language in the platform opposing discrimination based on sexual identity or gender expression.
"It is still clearly a very anti-LGBTQ platform," says Rachel Gonzales, education and resource coordinator for Equality Texas. "The platform seems to represent a very small, extremist segment of the Republican Party."
Other leaders in the community express similar views.
“I see it as nothing,” says Finnigan Jones, the director of Dallas Trans-Cendence, about the language changes. He is running to unseat Republican Tony Tinderholt for Texas House District 94. He is among the first people in Texas to run against Republicans as an openly trans person. “Compared to all of the planks they have in their platform that are anti-LGBTQ, it means nothing to the community.”
The Log Cabin Republicans were prepared for strong criticism within the LGBTQ community, and there was plenty of faultfinding throughout the week. Much of the news reporting focused on the anti-LGBTQ measures that remain. And reports noted that the Log Cabin Republicans were once again not allowed a convention booth, space in the official program or the chance to advertise during the convention.
Marco Roberts, the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston president who was one of the primary activists involved in the platform debate, says a plank in the platform defining marriage as between a man and woman is “inconsequential.” The platform no longer includes a plank that says family should not be redefined to include homosexual people, he notes.
And GOP opposition to civil rights laws for LGBTQ people — in the name of protecting religious rights — doesn't worry Roberts’ group.
“It’s annoying that you have to say that, but it’s not a problem for us,” Roberts says, because nothing should ever come before one’s religious-based rights or beliefs.
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The Log Cabin Republicans detest the GOP’s stance against trans people, but Roberts says trans issues are new to politics, especially among social conservatives.
“It’s a much newer subject, and I think that what we are looking forward to do now is to continue the work of reaching out to folks across the political spectrum to start the dialogue,” he says.
Even LGBTQ-supporting groups think advocates on the left come across too harshly to right-leaning people when trans rights are up for discussion, he says.
“[They] have put people now in a position that they don’t know what they’re supposed to do,” Roberts says. “The law must be clear and predictable.”