The emerging Republican Party platform strongly endorses President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage — despite Vice President Dick Cheney’s contrasting views — and declares that only heterosexual couples should be entitled to legal recognition and related benefits.
GOP officials in charge of setting policy on family issues today speedily and unanimously approved the draft statement on a federal marriage amendment to counteract legal rulings in favor of gay marriage by what they called “activist judges.”
The officials simultaneously added language that appeared to attack same-sex civil unions and laws that grant domestic partner benefits to gays and lesbians: “We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.”
In addition, the 16-member subcommittee on family issues unanimously reaffirmed the party’s long-standing support for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.
Another subcommittee embraced Bush’s restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research, despite criticism of that policy by former First Lady Nancy Reagan and some other prominent Republicans who say that expanding such research would combat disease and help save lives. Bush says his policy protects embryonic human life.
Those planks and others in a 93-page draft document were heading toward approval, probably on Thursday, by the full 110-member platform committee chaired by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Delegates to the Republican National Convention are expected to ratify the platform next week.
The party blueprint reflects Bush’s close alliance with social conservatives on hot-button issues.
In the back of a room here at the Javits Convention Center, where the “Protecting Our Families” platform subcommittee met, sat veteran conservative activist Gary L. Bauer. He said he was pleased by what he called “a pretty solid document.”
Bauer dismissed Cheney’s comments this week in which the vice president said that, unlike Bush, he believed same-sex marriage should not be a federal issue. It marked a rare public break on policy between the two men.
“The president is strongly in favor of the amendment” banning gay marriage, Bauer said. “It’s impossible to imagine a platform that wouldn’t reflect that fact.”
But a representative from the Log Cabin Republicans said he was appalled at the developing platform.
“It’s absolutely outrageous,” said Christopher Barron, political director for the gay Republican organization. “Their language goes far beyond what even the president has asked for. This is an insult to fair-minded Republicans.”
The subcommittee spurned efforts by the gay GOP organization and other groups to include a statement of party unity that acknowledges differences over the issues of gay rights and abortion.
Frist also monitored the proceedings from the back of the room. “Not everybody’s ideas make it all the way through to the end,” he acknowledged. But the Senate leader claimed that the platform would reflect the “richness, diversity and debate” that are “really what we’re all about as a party.”