CLEVELAND — If you had any illusion that the Republican Party might shake its anti-LGBTQ image after losing on same-sex marriage, the drafted Republican platform should dispel that notion.
Republican Party delegates officially approved the platform at the national convention in Cleveland on Monday. It is now the official policy platform of the entire GOP.
Still, it’s not clear how much the platform really matters in terms of setting policy. But the platform at the very least conveys a sense of how the GOP will approach LGBTQ issues in the near future — and it doesn’t look good for LGBTQ people.
Here are five ways in which the Republican platform is anti-LGBTQ, from marriage to conversion therapy.
1) Continued opposition to marriage equality
Four years after the Republican platform rejected state court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage as "an assault on the foundations of our society," the 2016 platform continues the party’s opposition to marriage equality.
The platform states, "It is the foundation of civil society, and the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman." It also condemns the Supreme Court’s pro–marriage equality rulings.
The message here is pretty clear: Even after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, and even as most of the country supports marriage equality, Republicans remain opposed to same-sex couples’ right to marry.
2) Support for North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom law
Over the past several months, transgender people’s right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity has become a huge political issue in America, especially after North Carolina passed a law that banned trans people from using the bathroom for their gender identity in schools and government buildings.
The platform effectively defends North Carolina’s law. In response to the Obama administration’s guidance calling on schools to let trans people use the bathroom for their gender identity, the platform says, "They are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it."
This appears to reject not only the Obama administration’s guidance for bathrooms but also the administration’s assertion that trans people are protected from various types of discrimination under federal law. In federal civil rights law, discrimination on the basis of sex is banned in the workplace, housing, and schools. The Obama administration has interpreted these laws to also ban anti-trans discrimination, since discrimination against trans people is rooted in sex-based expectations of people.
This is why the Obama administration has told schools to not ban trans people from using the bathroom for their gender identity: It sees such actions as discriminatory.
So if the Republican platform considers these moves "illegal," it may suggest that all types of discrimination against trans people — not just in bathrooms — is legal, too.
3) Support for anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy
The drafted Republican platform doesn’t explicitly mention conversion therapy, which tries to forcefully change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. But it does effectively endorse the dangerous anti-LGBTQ therapy.
Lauren McGaughy reported for the Dallas Morning News:
The new platform language, which the committee approved, does not actually explicitly mention the practice, but says parents should be allowed ‘to determine the proper treatment or therapy" for their children.
After the meeting, Perkins said the language would extend to any "physical, emotional" therapy.
Conversion therapy is not only ineffective, it’s dangerous. The American Psychological Association, World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and American Counseling Association have all issued statements against the practice.
A review of the research, released by the American Psychological Association in 2009, concluded that conversion therapies are "unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of [conversion therapy] practitioners and advocates." The review also stated that "same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality."
But some parents continue to force the therapies on their children after they reject their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which can lead to horrible mental and even physical health outcomes. A study by San Francisco State University found that LGBTQ young people who were rejected by their families, compared with those who weren't, were eight times as likely to attempt suicide, nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression, more than three times as likely to use illegal drugs, and more than three times as likely to have unprotected sex.
So conversion therapy not only fails to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity but can also cause harm. The Republican Party is seemingly embracing the practice anyway in its platform.
4) A tacit condemnation of same-sex parents
The platform also includes consistent support for "natural marriage," traditional "two-parent households," and claims that "every child deserves a married mom and dad" — very clear attacks on same-sex parents. James Bopp, a Republican delegate from Indiana, said, "A man and a woman family is the best, ideal vehicle for raising children."
The scientific research has repeatedly disputed this, finding that children of same-sex parents report equal or better outcomes. In fact, studies have suggested that the only hurdle that could make same-sex parents worse than opposite-sex parents is stigma — like, say, a major political party condemning them and their children.
5) Zero positive mentions of LGBTQ people
If all of that doesn’t cement how anti-LGBTQ the Republican platform is, perhaps you should consider what the platform committee left out. Katy Steinmetz and Zeke Miller reported for Time (emphasis mine):
The 56-member group that is finalizing the party’s platform in advance of the GOP convention had rejected Rachel Hoff’s passionate appeal to acknowledge Republicans’ "diversity of opinion" on marriage the day before. And the same committee voted down her suggestions on Tuesday to acknowledge the murders of LGBT people in the Middle East and in Orlando, where the deadliest shooting in U.S. history occurred at a gay club exactly one month before.
It is one thing to take anti-LGBTQ stances on marriage, bathrooms, and parenting. But in this case, members of the Republican Party are taking an implicitly anti-LGBTQ view on, well, murder.