The Republican Party Stubbornly Opposes Marriage Equality


The Republican National Committee has again aggressively affirmed its party’s permanent opposition to marriage equality. On April 12, the RNC unanimously adopted a resolution declaring that mixed-gender marriage is holy, but same-gender marriage is un-holy. Likewise, among members of Congress, 100% of Republican leaders (and 98% of Republican non-leaders) oppose marriage equality.

During a 3-day business meeting in Los Angeles that began on April 11, RNC officials, in a nod to Christian-like religions, unanimously adopted a resolution, stating, “[T]he Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.”

Republican party leaders have never made any progress on marriage equality. In early 2012, the defining of their values and the setting of their goals was turned over to the religious and social conservatives who control the party’s official platform. That 62-page Platform includes a vow (drafted for the RNC by the Family Research Council) to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. If passed, all existing same-gender marriages would be revoked, future same-gender couples could never marry, and same-gender couples and their children would always be denied the 1,138 federal marriage-related benefits that other Americans take for granted.

The increased opposition to marriage equality ensures that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will continue spending millions of taxpayer dollars trying to protect the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, also drafted by the Family Research Council. The U.S. Department of Justice found DOMA to be impossible to defend — because it is unconstitutional — but the Republican party’s outside lawyer has butted into 14 DOMA cases nationwide anyway.  Not surprisingly, the party is losing nearly all of its motions, trials, and appeals and at taxpayers’ expense.

Even after nearly four decades of trying, the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay community’s only long-standing Republican political membership organization, remains unable to help the party free itself from the grip of evangelical Dominionists, whose avowed goal is to replace democracy with theocracy.

On 8 April, leaders of 13 anti-LGBT groups, including 4 certified hate groups — American Family Association, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family (CitizenLink), Traditional Values Coalition — demanded that the anti-marriage-equality positions in the 2012 Republican party platform be reaffirmed by party officials for 2013.  The anti-LGBT leaders threatened to halt their members’ funding and voting for Republican candidates if the party doesn’t harden its anti-LGBT position.

On 20 March, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) predicted that if the GOP wavers in its opposition to same-gender marriage, then evangelicals who used to vote Republican will simply walk away.  On 5 April, the Republican party’s very existence was threatened by Family Research Council Vice President Tom McClusky, who said that if the Republican party does not strengthen its existing opposition, then a new political party will be created mainly to oppose same-gender marriage.  On 10 April, U.S. Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) told Family Research Council President and former Louisiana state lawmaker Tony Perkins (R) that there is no such thing as same-gender marriage, and that it is not a civil liberty. The next day, Perkins wrote to millions of his members and told them to halt donations to the Republican party until its leaders more aggressively oppose same-gender marriage. As a former U.S. senator, former Republican presidential candidate, and likely future Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum (R) confirmed the same day that his party won’t allow same-gender marriage, saying, “The Republican party’s not going to change on this issue.  In my opinion, it would be suicide if it did.”

Anti-LGBT forces, from outside and inside the party, have again taken it over, just as they did in 2009 and 2011.

Republican officials called the business meeting to establish budgets, rules, internal coordination, voter outreach, and a political strategy for enlarging Republican voter rolls with more ethnic minorities.  But the party still shows zero desire to attract LGBT people, couples, families, and their allies, despite the fact that together they represent more voters than Asians or African-Americans or Latinos do, now that 63% of Americans want the federal government to recognize same-gender marriage in every state where it becomes legal.

Republicans who fight for social conservatism invariably try to tie their policies to imaginary economic benefits. For example, in the latest resolution, party leaders claimed that the best way to end poverty is via mixed-gender marriage, on the assumption that early marriage among mixed-gender couples is what prevents fathers from abandoning their families later on. But there is no data proving that it is a couple’s marriage that creates any wealth. Also, because most wealthy couples stay wealthy and most poor couples stay poor, there is no data proving that couples who are poor before marriage become wealthy after marriage. Couples do not jump into higher economic brackets merely by throwing weddings for themselves. Finally, there is no data showing that banning same-gender marriages increases mixed-gender marriages, or increases birth rates, or reduces divorce.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus has decreed that his party must become competitive in all 50 states, but the party can’t enlist any new voters unless and until it makes three overdue changes.

1. The Republican party needs to abandon its permanent, official discrimination against LGBT individuals, couples, and their children.

2. The Republican party needs to stop using false economic theories (“marriage makes money”) just to excuse unconstitutional discrimination (“mixed-gender couples are holy; same-gender couples are profane”).

3. The Republican party needs to stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to save the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.

Without these three changes, Republican officials will unhappily discover — during their next post-election autopsy — that not only are no new voters joining up, but former Republicans are increasingly jumping ship.

Ned Flaherty is a Projects Manager at Marriage Equality USA.  In this article, he represents himself, not the organization.  He writes from Boston, Massachusetts.