politics | opinionDate: November 15, 2016 guardian
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The Republican platform is extremist – and so is anyone who supports it

It endorses ‘conversion therapy’. It rejects marriage equality. Incredibly, it’s to the right of Donald Trump. This is a party that has abandoned the mainstream

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two,” Tony Perkins wrote on the Family Research Council website in 2010. “It is a homosexual problem.”

Such views are perhaps to be expected from the president of the FRC, a fiercely anti-LGBTQ organization that, using faith as a justification, has propagated the insidious view that gay people are sexual predators.

Mainstream Republicans might deem Perkins a fringe character. At the very least, they would probably want to distance themselves from a man who once purchased Klansman David Duke’s email list for use in a political campaign in Louisiana (Perkins now claims he wasn’t aware of the mailing list’s connection to Duke).

And yet, it’s Perkins and his ilk who have emerged as the GOP’s moral compass in crafting the party platform ahead of the national convention in Cleveland. Perkins, an RNC delegate from Louisiana, succeeded in his push to add language to the platform supporting “conversion therapy”, a practice banned in several states that “re-educates” children to become cisgender and heterosexual.

In addition, the platform, which was approved in committee on Tuesday, supports state laws that bar transgender people from public bathrooms and includes language that says “natural marriage”, marriage between a man and a woman, is more likely to produce offspring who do not become addicted to drugs. It also declares pornography a “public health crisis”.

Republican moderates failed in their bid to include language acknowledging anti-gay discrimination in the wake of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, and so the platform heads to a formal vote next week bereft of any positive language on LGBTQ people whatsoever. It is unclear if the party will ratify it.

What is clear, however, is the influence of anti-LGBTQ fanatics and radical social conservatives in drawing up the platform, one that, incredibly, veers right of the party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who desperately needs the support of the religious conservatives.

Perkins is far from the only anti-LGBTQ activist who had a hand in creating the platform. The committee also includes David Barton from Texas, who has claimed that HIV/Aids is God’s punishment for homosexuality, and Cynthia Dunbar from Virginia, who compares gay rights to Nazism.

What a dream team.

The support for conversion therapy is especially heinous, considering it’s LGBTQ children who are typically the people who undergo it. Children cannot consent to this dangerous practice, and statistics tell us that those who endure it are more likely to suffer from depression and are eight times more likely to have attempted suicide.

Same-sex marriage, of course, became the law of the land last year after the supreme court handed down its ruling on Obergefell v Hodges. But it’s an issue social conservatives are unwilling to let go of. Donald Trump himself claimed that he would “strongly consider” appointing supreme court justices who would overturn marriage equality.

Put together, the platform is an expression of the desire for LGBTQ people to disappear. It’s so bad that the Log Cabin Republicans came out and called it the Republican party’s “most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history”.

It sits in stark contrast to the Democratic party’s platform, which, while criticised by some for not doing more (the section on LGBTQ rights is a scant, singular paragraph), does take a strong stance on equality and says the party will fight for comprehensive federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans.

Ultimately, the Republican party platform isn’t just retrograde. It’s dangerous. It is the byproduct of the chaos presided over by an inexperienced, weak nominee, and it represents a stunning defeat for Republican moderates in the battle for the soul of their party.

As a result, any moderate who gives even tacit approval to a party that has positioned itself so squarely in opposition to the freedoms of LGBTQ cannot be considered a moderate at all.

politics | opinionDate: November 15, 2016 guardian
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