6 AUGUST 27, 2004
www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE
I national news
GOP rejects call for 'unity' plank
Party endorses anti-gay-
By CYD ZEIGLER JR.
NEW YORK —As the Republicans gear
up for their national convention next week,
the party's platform committee unanimously adopted language this week officially
endorsing the Federal Marriage
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which
would ban states from marrying gay couples.
The committee also rejected a plea from
moderate GOP groups to adopt a "unity
plank" that would urge respect for those
Republicans who do not agree with the
party's opposition to abortion rights and
The 2004 Republican National Convention
began with a quiet rumble Wednesday Aug.
25, at the Javtts Center in New York City with
meetings of the RNC's platform committee.
Gay issues from marriage to job discrimination to HTV were addressed for the better
part of Wednesday with little dissention, as
unanimity ruled the day
"Compared to previous conventions, this
was a lot less heated and emotional than
previous occasions," said former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, now chair of the
Campaign for Working FamUies.
The hot-button issue of same-sex marriage
was addressed by the Protecting Our Families
Platform Subcommittee, chaired by Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour, who is also a former
chair of the Republican National Committee.
A paragraph entitied. "Protecting Marriage,"
was included in the platform.
"One of the people who voted against
the Defense of Marriage Act was Senator
John Kerry," Barbour noted during the
public discussion of the plank.
DOMA, passed by Congress and signed
by President Clinton in 1996, limited federal benefits associated with marriage to heterosexual couples and provided that states
are not obligated to recognize same-sex
marriages performed elsewhere.
The original platform draft language proposed Aug. 24 said marriage defined as
between a man and a woman has deep historical context, that that definition should be
protected, and attempts to change it should
be stifled by a constitutional amendment.
Criticizing 'activist judges'
"Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified
by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges," part of the proposed draft read.
Cecilia Levatino, a delegate from Las
Cruces, N.M., proposed the paragraph be
amended to admonish "activist judges,"
and to withdraw the U.S. Supreme Court's
jurisdiction over marriage so that other
states would be protected from "the mis-
On Wednesday, Aug. 25, at the Jacob Javits Center, Tony Peridns of the conservative Family Research Council unveiled a new book about gay marriage and the gay 'agenda.'
chief in Massachusetts."
Barbour quickly requested an amendment
to me amendment that would change the "mischief in Massachusetts" language to
"Massachusetts' attempt to redefine marriage."
Levatino later said she used the term,
"Because I'm mischievous and wanted to add
a little punch. Nothing more sinister than
that." The amended paragraph on marriage,
and almost every section of the subcommittee's platform, was adopted unanimously
Gay rights groups were quick to criticize
the anti-gay language adopted by the GOP.
"Vice President Cheney must explain how
he can stand behind a platform that discriminates against families like his," said Cheryl
Jacques, the Human Rights Campaign's executive director, in a statement.
'Unity plank' rejected
After the vote, Jim Bopp, a delegate and
lawyer from Terra Haute, Ind., called the
group's attention to a news release issued
last week by a coalition of moderate GOP
groups, including the Log Cabin
The release, sent the morning of Aug. 25
before any subcommittees had convened,
expressed disappointment that the first
draft of the platform did not include the
coalition's proposed "Party Unity Plank."
Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick
Guerriero, along with leaders of other moder
ate GOP groups, sent a letter on Aug. 19 to platform committee OKhairs Sen. Bill Frist of
Tennessee, Gov. William Owens of Colorado,
and Congresswoman Melissa Hart of
Pennsylvania, urging them to develop an
inclusive platform. "We recognize and
respect that Republicans of good faith may
not agree with all the planks in the party's
platform," the proposed plank reads. "This
is particularly the case with regard to
those planks dealing with abortion, family
planning, and gay and lesbian issues."
Guerriero also asked that the platform
not take a position on the Federal Marriage
Amendment and that language stating,
"We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service," be removed.
At the subcommittee meeting, Bopp
said the coalition's Aug. 25 statement,
released before a vote was ever taken by a
committee, showed a lack of commitment
"It frankly indicates bad faith from someone who is attempting to divide the party
rather than bring it together," Bopp said.
"Everybody knows ... that [the draft]
becomes the foundation," Guerriero said.
"Regardless of where you stand on these
issues, if you're a gay or lesbian American
or an ally, this platform is offensive. That
press release was probably muted when
you look at the types of amendments that
were passed unanimously."
The Strengthening Our Communities
subcommittee had a bit of trouble adding
anti-gay language to the GOP platform this
week. When a delegate attempted to add a
clause to the "Ensuring Equal
Opportunities" paragraph that would
exclude "sexual preference" from protection against discrimination, at least one
subcommittee member voiced concern
that "sexual preference" could include
There was some talk of specifying that
homosexuals should not be protected, but
the issue was tabled indefinitely.
The draft of the platform, at more than
90 pages, is more detailed and issue-specific than the 19-page platform adopted by the
party in 1992. "It doesn't mean anything
other than people have strong feelings
about a lot of different issues," Bauer said.
The main event begins Monday, Aug. 30,
when the convention moves to Madison
Square Garden. The Republicans have
promised to showcase a more moderate,
diverse face of the party when the convention gets underway.
Guerriero said that very few people read
the platform, but millions watch the convention speeches. "We have great friends
who are going to be featured in prime time
at the convention," Guerriero said. He said
they include New York Gov. George Pataki,
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
and former New York City Mayor Rudolph