State-level Republican parties widely see eye to eye on guns, taxes and the role of government. But they split in every direction when it comes to gay marriage: Some are for it, some are against and other states want to avoid it entirely.
Last week, the Washington D.C. Republican Committee - the equivalent of the state party - became the first state GOP group to officially endorse gay marriage with a plank in its 2012 platform.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in D.C. The “Family and Marriage” section of the new platform affirms, “We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia, support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”
No other GOP state party platform has gone as far. But as state parties draft new platforms this year, the GOP could likely end up with state parties that run the gamut from planks firmly opposing gay marriage to others that endorse it.
Indiana Republicans ended up somewhere in the middle. The state Republican Party removed anti-language in its platform earlier this year, and no longer has a stated position on gay marriage. Though it does not endorse marriage equality, the removal of its opposition to the institution represents a step in that direction. The shift pleased LGTB activists and angered social conservatives.
“A lot of issues are covered; a lot weren’t,” Pete Seat, press secretary for the Indiana Republican Party, told the Indianapolis Star, downplaying the move’s significance. “This platform reflects the broader priorities of the Indiana Republican Party.”
Last fall, the Oregon Republican Party came to the same conclusion. Though its platform still defines marriage as between one man and one woman — which is in keeping with the Oregon Constitution — the party removed language that was hostile to same-sex marriage and civil unions. “We want the public to take another look at the Republican Party and our policies,” Greg Leo, a spokesman for state GOP, said at the time. “It’s fair to say we’re more centrist.”
Other state parties have moved in the other direction and doubled down on their opposition to same-sex marriage and even civil unions. The Texas GOP, which has drawn a lot of attention for many planks in its extreme platform, decries the “practice of homosexuality,” which the group says “tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.”
Other state Republican parties, such as Iowa’s and Montana’s, specifically define marriage as between a man and a woman in their 2012 platforms.
“It’s really good, positive news,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director for the group Freedom to Marry, of the D.C. GOP’s new marriage-equality plank. But Solomon said support for marriage equality on the Republican side has begun among high-profile individuals and elected officials but hasn’t necessarily trickled down to state parties yet, which are often run by the “true believers” at the local level. Still, Solomon acknowledged, “we’re seeing movements” that are “substantial” among the GOP.
Solomon said his group would have a presence at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where he expects to meet with “plenty of delegates and donors who will be open to our message.”
In D.C., the committee held two public meetings in which the D.C. chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans lobbied for inclusive language to their platform. “Our argument was that D.C. has always been an inclusive city,” said Robert Turner II, head of the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, who testified at one open meeting. Robert Kabel, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee, is a former chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans.
“We’re the first spark,” Turner said of D.C. He pointed to Indiana as another example of a state GOP making progress on gay rights. “It’s small steps, each year we reach more and more people. So the next time we have these platform committee meetings, there’s a strong possibility more states will adopt similar language.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.