GOP Platform Language Divides Party

Wed. August 25, 2004 12:00 AM

New York, NY - A coalition of mainstream Republican groups, consisting of the Log Cabin Republicans, Republicans for Choice, and the Republican Youth Majority, are deeply disappointed by the decision to reject the inclusion of the group's "Party Unity" Plank in the draft 2004 Republican Party Platform. "Today's decision- refusing to unite our party and refusing to recognize that people of good faith can disagree over contentious social issues, sends the wrong message to fair-minded voters," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, Patrick Guerriero. "This was a chance to unite the party and demonstrate that the GOP's inclusiveness doesn't end with the prime time speaking lineup," said Ann Stone, National Chair of Republicans for Choice. "It was their chance to show George Bush as a uniter not a divider," she added, "but clearly they have failed."

The draft platform language comes on the heels of Vice President Cheney's comments in Iowa yesterday where he made it clear that he did not believe a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex civil marriage was necessary. "What is the message that today's platform language sends to Republicans like Vice President Cheney, Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Giuliani, and Senator McCain?" asked Guerriero. "How can you have a platform that fails to recognize people of good faith, like Vice President Cheney, can disagree over complex social issues? The far right's agenda is dividing our families, our party, our nation, and even our President and Vice President."

The Party Unity Plank, which was rejected by the drafters of the Platform reads:

"We recognize and respect that Republicans of good faith may not agree with all the planks in the party's platform. This is particularly the case with regard to those planks dealing with abortion, family planning, and gay and lesbian issues. The Republican Party welcomes all people on all sides of these complex issues and encourages their active participation as we work together on those issues upon which we agree."

"We have not asked anyone to compromise their values or change their positions. We have simply asked that our Platform reflect the same diversity of opinion as our line-up of primetime speakers," said Eli Allagoa, Managing Director of Republican Youth Majority.

The Platform Committee's refusal to include the Unity Plank is just the first step in the Platform process. The Coalition will now look to the delegates on the platform committee to adopt the Unity Plank. Should delegates on the committee fail to adopt the Unity plank, the Coalition has not ruled out the possibility of bringing this plank to the convention floor for consideration.

"Today we call on the members of the platform committee to do what the drafters of the platform have refused to do, unite our party," said Guerriero. "The members of the platform committee can send a clear message to voters all across this country, that the GOP truly is a Big Tent Party in the best tradition of Ronald Reagan."

After the unveiling of the Unity Plank, the coalition reached out to groups on the far right in an effort to pull the party together. However, far right leaders such as Gary Bauer, Phyllis Schlafly and Tony Perkins made it clear that they oppose any attempt to unify the party and recognize the diversity of opinion that exists in the GOP. Tony Perkins, head of the far right Family Research Council, stated that his "issues" were "more important than any party." Some leaders on the radical right, such as Paul Weyrich, have threatened not to show up to the polls if party leaders refuse to fully embrace their agenda.

The far right's push for control over the party's platform and policy agenda is a stark contrast to the public face of the convention. The RNC's announced lineup of primetime speakers for the convention includes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Senator John McCain, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New York Governor George Pataki. Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will open the convention. All of these speakers have long histories of supporting policies that respect the GOP's diversity.

"Our coalition represents the majority of Republicans who believe in fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and mainstream social policies. It is deeply disappointing that the draft platform makes no effort to reach out to these moderates and fair-minded voters. We have never asked the party to exclude evangelicals. We have only asked that our platform recognize that good Republicans like Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Giuliani are welcome in our party as more than just window dressing," said Stone.

In 2000, one million gays and lesbians voted for President Bush, and millions of pro-choice men and women supported the President. "This was an opportunity for the Republican Party to concentrate on the issues that bring us together: lower taxes, strong national defense, personal responsibility and a commitment to individual liberty. The refusal to do so sends a message to millions of fair-minded Republicans that their voices are not welcome in this party," said Guerriero.

"This is not the end of our fight, this is just the beginning. It is a struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. We will take this fight to the American people. It's a battle that's bigger than just one platform or one convention or one election. This is a battle about the future of the Republican Party," concluded Guerriero.

"It is the opening battle for 2008" added Stone.
 

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