If you’ve ever read the Texas GOP’s party platform, you’d know they would be hard pressed to make it even more anti-gay. Well, now they have.
When the Dallas Voice reported last week that the Texas GOP had stripped some of its now infamous anti-gay language from its party platform, hopes were high that the state’s Republican party had decided to at least de-emphasize their hostility toward LGBT people. Unfortunately, upon seeing the first draft of the party platform, those hopes were quickly dashed.
To be sure, the Texas GOP has removed some of the nastier language relating to homosexuality, in particular the following:
“…we affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God.”
However, much of the anti-gay language remains, including (h/t to the Chron):
Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.
Not only that, but the Texas GOP wants to change the law to withhold jurisdiction from the courts to make it impossible for the courts to overturn anti-gay marriage bans. Among other anti-gay language, the platform states
We oppose any government agency to force faith-based adoption or foster care organizations to place children with same-sex couples.
We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman.
We support withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.
We shall not recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse.
We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married.
We urge the Legislature to rescind no-fault divorce laws and support Covenant Marriage.
Obviously, this is an overt attack on marriage equality and the right to adopt children, but it also constitutes an attack on domestic partners and people who wish to cohabit.
Other aspects of the platform mean that the Texas GOP will block all attempts at repealing the state’s anti-sodomy law, even though the Supreme Court of the United States has rendered it unenforceable because it is blatantly unconstitutional. Furthermore, it also probably means the GOP won’t change the state’s education code that has what is essentially a Russian style anti-gay “propaganda” ban, meaning that any pro-LGBT messaging in schools is forbidden.
In addition to this, delegates have added a controversial new couple of elements to the platform. One seeks to bolster religious rights against having to serve gay people and opposing any and all forms of ENDA, no doubt a reaction to the various federal level challenges that have seen the religious being told that if they open a public business they must abide by civil rights laws and serve the public, including LGBT people.
The other addition is even more damaging. The platform advocates for “reparative therapy” for gay people:
Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.
No doubt a reaction to laws in California and New Jersey that prohibit counselors from attempting ex-gay therapy with minors, this addition to the Texas GOP’s platform is particularly incredible because it is done despite the fact that all reputable medical bodies affirm that there is no “legitimate” reason to pursue trying to change someone’s sexuality and that there is no evidence it is even possible.
What’s more, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence, supported by clinical opinion, that attempting to change someone’s sexuality is traumatic and potentially damaging. Evidence suggests that this practice can lead to long term depression and suicidal ideation, sometimes with tragic consequences.
A lawsuit is currently underway in New Jersey against a leading Jewish ex-gay group where the plaintiffs are making a strong case for these harms. In addition, the presiding judge has just ruled that there will be no cap on the damages that might be awarded to plaintiffs should they prevail, further emphasizing the seriousness of the possible harms of ex-gay therapy.
Despite the ex-gay language being derisive, the party platform was approved in Fort Worth late last week and is now the official stance of the Texas GOP going into the 2016 elections.
The ex-gay endorsement has already featured as a talking point in the Texas governor race, with Democratic firebrand Wendy Davis already tweeting out her opposition to the language and an affirmation of equal rights for LGBT people, setting her liberal credentials against the staunch far-right politics of the Republican hopeful Greg Abbott.
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