Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) met to debate the terms of the party’s policy platform ahead of their National Convention.
The debate in Cleveland covered a plethora of issues including: marriage, energy, immigration, religion and trade.
Although Donald Trump was absent from the sessions, the discussions reflected the growing influence of the presumptive presidential nominee. Of particular importance was the absence of any mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement promoted in the 2012 Republican platform.
Debates over LGBT issues were some of the most fiercely debated during the meeting, reflecting the gulf between 2012 and 2016 in terms of same-sex marriage and trans-awareness. Although little progress was made in the actual draft, the meeting did shine light on the divisions between the staunch religious conservatism of the party, and the stance of the more populist Trump – who has condemned anti-gay propaganda.
The draft must now be ratified by the 2,472 delegates at the party’s National Convention before it becomes the official party platform for the election.
Here’s a list of the most astonishing amendments:
1) Marriage is between a man and a woman
While a distinct softening on same-sex marriage is seen in the draft, the committee overwhelmingly voted down a proposal that would in any way support same-sex marriage. Instead they want last year’s Supreme Court decision – the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges – that legalized gay marriage overturned.
The draft read: “We urge (the ruling’s) reversal whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”
The decision came despite the attendance of Rachel Hoff, the first openly gay delegate to appear on the committee. During the meeting, she said: “We are your daughters. We are your friends. All I ask today is that you include me and people like me.”
2) Gay and transgender “conversion therapy” is OK
Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, proposed an amendment that “supports the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children”. It was viewed a nod to gay conversion therapy in everything but exact terms.
Obama has been outspoken in his opposition to gay and transgender “conversion therapy”. His administration released this statement last year in response to an online petition that wanted such “therapies” outlawed.
“As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”
Another motion rejected the right of transgender people to use the gender of toilet with which they identify.
3) “Religious liberty” should be afforded to businesses
Jonathan Gardner, a delegate from New Mexico, bemoaned that some adoption agencies that refuse to facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples had been pushed to breaking point by government legislation.
Subsequently, the committee ratified a “religious liberty” amendment that would protect businesses that refuse to serve LGBT people.
4) “Mom and Dad” are essential for a happy life
After discussing the dangers posed by same-sex couples, the committee ratified an amendment that claimed children are “healthier” in “traditional” familial environments.
“Children raised in a traditional two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime, or become pregnant outside of marriage.”
The committee subsequently debated the terms of a sentence that read, “children have a natural right to be raised in an intact biological family.”
5) Coal is “clean”
In a discussion on energy resources, Texas delegate David Barton proposed a motion that would include the word “clean” to describe coal.
The committee passed the amendment, meaning the draft platform describes coal as “an abundant, clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy resource.”
The United States is one of the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases. It was responsible for close to 18% of the world’s greenhouse emissions last year.
6) A “wall” is better than a “fence”
The initial draft read that a “physical barrier” should be constructed between the United States and Mexico.
An amendment was passed that called specifically for a “wall” between the two countries.
New GOP platform now includes language that supports the border wall. We will build the wall and MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 13 July 2016
7) The Bible is a civic necessity
The draft platform called for the compulsory study of the Bible in all public schools.
According to the committee’s proposal, “a good understanding of the Bible is indispensable to the development of an educated citenzry.”
Non-Christian religions (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism) make up roughly 6% of the US population. A 2014 study found that just over 20% of the US population are either atheist or agnostic.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump renewed his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
8) Pornography is a “public health crisis”
Mary Frances Forrester, a North Carolina delegate, proposed – which passed with almost no contest – that describes pornography as a “public health crisis.”
It read: “Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the life of millions. We encourage states to continue to fight this public menace and pledge our commitment to children’s safety and well-being.”
The pornography proposal, which was totally absent from the initial draft released on Sunday evening, was passed at a similar time to discussions on curbing gay and transgender rights.
The committee failed to make any mention of gun crime.
The final draft will be confirmed at the Republican National Convention also in Cleveland, Ohio.