By Julissa Catalan
According to a Pew Research poll, 61 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Republicans are in favor of legalizing gay marriage. While younger generations of Republicans seem to be expanding their views on LGBT rights, the politicians currently in office are not.
Per the 2012 Republican platform, the official stance on LGBT rights remains the same: The GOP is still opposed to same-gender marriage, even asking for an amendment in the U.S. Constitution banning its legalization.
This also seems to be the case on a state level. The Huffington Post reports that the Republican Parties of only seven statesHawaii, Indiana, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbiahave no mention of opposition to same-gender marriage and other LGBT-equality issues in their platforms. Fourteen states align with the national platform, leaving the remaining 29 states with their own individual platforms opposing gay rights.
For example, Oklahoma opposes “the elimination of laws against sodomy” and asserts that being gay is a “chosen lifestyle,” not a “genetic trait.”
South Carolina’s platform “considers homosexuality a lifestyle detrimental to the health and well-being of individuals” and also expresses concern about the spread of HIV/AIDS because it “is no longer confined to the homosexual community and the ‘drug-abuse sub-culture.'”
Individual states and the national GOP will be updating their platforms in 2016, and the specifics are under much debate, as the Republican Party seems to be split down the middle regarding LGBT laws.
As of 2012, the Illinois GOP platform still supports a constitutional ban on same-gender marriage. However, in 2013, Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady resigned after being criticized for speaking out in favor of same-gender marriagecontradicting the Republican stance. Changes have continued for Illinois as many of the officials against Brady have since been replaced.
While Massachusetts legalized same-gender marriage in 2004, this year Republicans wrote an opposition into their platform.
Tyler Deaton, Campaign Manager for the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, has said that he is making it his mission to have anti-LGBT language eliminated from the Massachusetts platform. The organization is spending $1 million dollars to “reform the platform” from its current “regression.”
“The Republican Party in Massachusetts is a pro-freedom-to-marry party, except for a small group of activists who managed to organize themselves and influence the outcome of the convention,” Deaton said. “It’s symptomatic of a lack of organization by all of the pro-freedom-to-marry Republicans who are the majority in Massachusetts and know that the Republican Party in Massachusetts has to move forward on this issue to be viable.”
The organization seems to have some leverage as it successfully influenced the national Democratic Party to include LGBT equality on its platform.
Deaton says he will focus on the younger generation of Republicans, which seems to be more open to and accepting of the changes.
“I think mechanically the biggest part of what we’re doing is educating supporters about an opportunity that already exists to become more involved in the party, to try to become a delegate to the national convention in 2016, and to really stand up and be counted, to have their voice be heard and to be a participant in the process,” he said.
“I think a lot of activists have struggled to find the right way to channel their beliefs,” he added. “And that makes sense, right Because especially if you live in one of the 17 states or you live in D.C., and you’re a Republican and so those are the states that have the freedom to marry, I think you ask yourself, ‘What can you do to be contributing to this bigger national fight for freedom for same-sex couples'”
The Republican National Committee has openly said that the party needs to be less anti-LGBT, stating, “if our party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.”
“There are a lot of young Republicans who just love the Republican Party, and they are die-hard conservatives. And they want to be excited about being Republicans, passionate about it,” said Deaton. “But then you have this anti-gay language in there that can be demoralizing. It can undercut your enthusiasm. That’s partially how I view it as a gay Republican. I just can’t stand that there’s language in there that’s so demeaning.
“I think we’ll have a new platform in 2016. I think we’ll have the anti-gay language removed, and I don’t know exactly what the new platform will say, but I think it will be unifying and it won’t be anti-gay.”