CLEVELAND – One day after rejecting a proposal to soften their stance against same-sex marriage, Republicans assigned the task of designing GOP policy for the 2016 presidential campaign on Tuesday decided to strike even the mention of the acronym “LGBT” from the platform that will be presented to the convention next week.
It happened like this: In a discussion of foreign policy, Giovanni Cicione of Rhode Island pointed to this sentence in the proposed platform:
Radical Islamic terrorism poses an existential threat to personal freedom and peace around the world.
Cicione wanted this phrase added:
LGBT individuals in particular have been a target of violent oppression.
Here’s the explanation Cicione gave:
“This section really gets to the heart of our battle with ISIS and Islamic terrorism. They’re not coming after us as a country. They’re coming after us as a value system. They are opposed to Western values. Nothing expresses that more than the targeting of LGBT individuals by radical Islamic terrorists.”
There was a subtext to the discussion. Exactly one month ago, a U.S. citizen declaring himself a soldier of ISIS walked into a gay night spot in Orlando and killed 49 people. “As a political matter, we need to address this issue,” Cicione said. He noted that a national poll last week showed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump showed the candidate not only trailing Hillary Clinton among 18 to 29-year-olds, but Libertarian Gary Johnson, too.
Several platform committee members objected, pointing to Christians, Jews and other groups that had been targeted by ISIL. So the amendment was broadened to this:
“LGBT individuals, Christians, Jews, and women in particular have been a target of violence and oppression.”
Then Rachel Hoff, a delegate from the District of Columbia, spoke up. She is the first openly gay member of an RNC platform committee. On Monday, Hoff offered a proposal that would have acknowledged the “diverse and sincerely held” that exist on the topic of marriage. The vote wasn’t close, and Republicans stuck to their previous position that true marriage is between one man and one woman.
On Tuesday, Hoffman asked her fellow Republicans to put their views on marriage aside:
“I know that most of you did not support my amendment yesterday on LBGT issues. It’s important to note that this issue is not about your stance on marriage – on traditional marriage, or marriage equality. This is about standing up for basic human rights in this country and around the world….After my remarks yesterday about being a proud lesbian Republican, not a single person in this room displayed any animosity, hatred toward me – at least not to my face.
“But to the people in this room who said they supported me, even if you couldn’t support my amendment yesterday, you need to support this amendment. Because if you do support people like me, then can you not at the very least stand up for our right to not be killed, along with these other groups by people who not only want to bring harm not only to our country, but to people based on their identity.”
Hoff specifically pointed to the Pulse nightclub massacre:
“One month ago today, that was a targeted attack on the LGBT community for simply living in freedom as who they are.”
In the end, the platform committee resolved the conflict by stripping out all references to groups, and said this:
“We oppose the brutal assault on all human beings, all of whom have inherent dignity.”
During a lunch break, I asked Hoff if the object of the morning exercise was to simply insert the acronym “LGBT” into the GOP platform — to win an acknowledgement that such a community exists. She said yes. I asked her whether LGBT appears anywhere in the platform. She said no. Not negatively or positively. Simply no mention.