Ahead of an expected vote on anti-gay resolutions during the Republican National Committee summer meeting this week, GOP presidential hopefuls are universally silent on the measures.
The Washington Blade contacted each of the campaigns of the 2016 hopefuls, but not a single one in the days since the Blade first reported on the measures last week responded to a request for comment on whether the candidates would repudiate them. (The campaign for former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore couldn’t be reached for comment.)
One of the resolutions, sponsored by Dave Agema of Michigan, encourages schools with gay-inclusive sex education curricula to “also include the harmful physical aspects of the lifestyle.” Another sponsored by Ross Little of Louisiana seeks to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision by urging Congress to pass legislation stripping federal courts of the ability to hear marriage cases and returning the issue to the states.
A third counter-resolution proposed by Diana Waterman of Maryland says the candidates, not the RNC, should be the ones responding to the marriage decision.
If the RNC were to adopt any of the non-binding resolutions next week, it would be the first official act of the Republican Party on the marriage issue following the historic Supreme Court decision. The initial vote could take place during the executive committee meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, where a successful vote would lead to consideration at the full committee meeting on Friday.
But none of the Republican candidates have sought to repudiate the anti-gay resolutions, even those that have called for their party to move on after the marriage ruling, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former New York Gov. George Pataki.
TJ Helmstetter, spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said the candidates have no reason to speak out because their anti-gay views are already known.
“We already know where Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and the 15 other Republican candidates stand on marriage equality – they’re against it and they’d overturn it given the opportunity,” Helmstetter said. “When it comes to the LGBT community, the Republican Party is divisive, outdated and out of touch.”
Meanwhile, Michigan Republican Party Chair Renna Romney McDaniel condemned this week the resolution proposed by Agema, according to MIRS News in Michigan.
“I don’t think it’s the RNC role to tell us what should or should not be taught in my kids’ sex education classes,” McDaniel said. “I just don’t.”
The resolution sponsor, Agema, is the same RNC member who has repeatedly landed in hot water for making anti-gay, racist and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook, such as an endorsement of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and an article saying gay people are “filthy,” frequently pedophiles and responsible for 50 percent of U.S. murders. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Preibus and former Michigan Republican Party Chair Bobby Schostok have called on Agema to step down and the RNC has censured him, but no explicit mechanism exists to expel him from the RNC and he has remained in his post.
JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, called on the candidates to denounce the resolutions during their upcoming appearance at the first debate Thursday in Cleveland.
“This week, Republican presidential candidates will have an opportunity to publicly embrace or reject several anti-LGBT resolutions that are being considered for inclusion in the GOP platform,” Winterhof said. “At Thursday’s debate, we urge Republican candidates to help turn the page on discrimination and stand with the growing majority of voters who support full LGBT equality. When nearly nine out of 10 Americans know someone who is LGBT, it’s clear that politicians who won’t speak out against anti-LGBT policies risk rejection in 2016.”