GOP platform would bar gay marriage

Group drafting policy led by conservatives backing constitutional amendment

Election 2004

August 26, 2004|By Nick Anderson | Nick Anderson,LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK - The emerging Republican Party platform embraces a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage - despite an unusual open split on the matter between President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney - and declares that only heterosexual couples should receive legal recognition and related benefits.

Republican platform drafters speedily and easily approved the unprecedented party policy statement on marriage yesterday.

Spurning pleas by gay Republicans for a paragraph that would explicitly acknowledge divisions over gay and lesbian issues, the party officials called their action a response to moves in Massachusetts, San Francisco and elsewhere to legalize same-sex marriage.

"We strongly support President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage," the plank reads. It further criticizes judges and local authorities for "presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage."

It was one of several platform-drafting victories by social conservatives who wield great influence within the party despite the national prominence of such moderate Republicans as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Both Schwarzenegger and McCain, who will address the Republican National Convention in prime time next week, have opposed an amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The Senate rejected such an amendment last month, and the Democratic Party platform adopted in Boston last month also opposed it.

On Tuesday, Cheney added his voice to the discussion, saying that he does not support a constitutional amendment - despite Bush's endorsement of the concept in February. The vice president's statement came at a campaign event in Iowa with his daughter Mary, a lesbian, in the audience.

Cheney's break with Bush on the socially charged issue set conservatives abuzz across the country, but it appeared to have negligible effect on the platform developing here.

The drafters of the GOP platform, a group dominated by social conservatives, added language that appeared to attack other recent legal developments short of same-sex marriage: same-sex civil unions (in Vermont) and laws that grant domestic-partner benefits in gay or lesbian relationships (in California and elsewhere).

"We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage," the plank reads.

Veteran conservative activist Gary L. Bauer applauded what he called "a pretty solid document." He dismissed Cheney's comments on the topic.

"The president is strongly in favor of the amendment" that would prohibit same-sex marriage, Bauer said. "It's impossible to imagine a platform that wouldn't reflect that fact."

But a gay Republican group denounced the language. "It's absolutely outrageous," said Christopher Barron, political director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "Their language goes far beyond what even the president has asked for. This is an insult to fair-minded Republicans."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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