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Gay Republicans Fight To Remove Language About 'Homosexuality' From Texas GOP Platform

Shelley Kofler
Texas Republicans are holding their party convention in Fort Worth starting Thursday.

Gay Republicans say they’ll fight to eliminate demeaning language about “homosexuality” in the state GOP platform when the party brings its convention to Fort Worth on Thursday.

When the Metroplex Republicans signed up to sponsor a booth at the state GOP convention, there seemed to be no problem. Then party officials realized the group is mostly gay and associated with the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents gay conservatives. So state party officials sent the registration money back -- and blocked the group from opening a booth in the exhibit hall.

“They were billed on their website as being a local affiliate of a national group that advocates for gay marriage. The (Texas Republican Party) platform is for traditional marriage,” said Steve Munisteri, the Texas Republican Party chairman.

State GOP Cites Platform In Denying Gays Exhibit Space

Munisteri explained the party’s policy is to deny convention space to groups that oppose major planks in the state party platform -- in this case, the party’s opposition to gay marriage.   

Rudy Oeftering of Metroplex Republicans says sponsoring the booth would have given gay Republicans an opportunity to break down barriers with some members in their party.

“We may be the first openly gay person they’ve ever spoken to in their life," Oeftering said. "And once you put a face with a stereotype, the stereotype collapses. And that was our main purpose."

Munisteri says the group will still have a chance to do that.

“As a delegate or alternate, they can pass out whatever literature they want to pass out," he said. "They can go to platform committees. They can talk on the floor. If they don’t like the policy, they can try to change the policy."

Changing the policy – and the party platform -- may be what Oeftering and the Metroplex Republicans are really after. 

Gay Delegates Call On GOP To Be More Inclusive 

They want to convince party delegates to drop language from the state GOP platformthat states: “The practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family. ... Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders and shared by the majority of Texans.””

Oeftering says those works are offensive and untrue.

“I’ve known men who adopted their nephews from their crack-addicted sisters," Oeftering said. "How that breaks down the family is beyond my imagination."

While Munisteri defends the party’s support for traditional marriage, he says the platform’s language could be “more kind.”

“I think it could be worded better,” Munisteri said.

But it will be a battle to convince activist Republicans who approved that language to eliminate it.

Cathie Adams, executive director of Texas Eagle Forum, believes the platform currently reflects a position that’s biblical.

“When a culture descends to a point where homosexuality is openly accepted as a normal behavior, then a society is well on its way to demise," she said.

But Oeftering believes society in general has become more accepting of the LGBT community -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people -- and the Republican Party of Texas should do the same.

”We cannot stay a red state with this kind of language in the platform and by rejecting people,” Oeftering said.

What The GOP Platform Says

Here's the entry on "homosexuality" from the Texas GOP platform:

Homosexuality ― 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, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. 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. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.