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GOP unveils road map to attract gay, minority voters amid party divisions

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Republican party on Monday unveiled a road map for a new, more inclusive GOP aimed at attract minority voters, including “welcoming” attitudes on gay rights — but minutes after unveiling the proposal, the party chairman distanced himself from it, and some conservatives and tea partyers balked.

The 100-page report, entitled the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” was quickly labeled an autopsy of the 2012 elections by political pundits inside the Beltway, and noted that the GOP’s uncompromising stance on key issues of concern to gay and lesbian voters had alienated the youth vote and young adults, causing the party to lose critical races.

“For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” according to the report.

“Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”

Conservative and tea party criticism was immediate, a sign that the prescriptions may end up widening existing divides rather than building new bridges in an evolving GOP.

“This is not my report,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told reporters, describing the contents as simply recommendations by a five-person panel, even though he was the person who had commissioned the self-audit after the party lost a second consecutive presidential election last fall.

Priebus made the comments immediately after declaring Monday “Day One” of the party’s push to change perceptions the audit uncovered — that the GOP is “narrow minded,” “”out of touch” and “stuffy old men.”

“The perception that we’re the party of the rich unfortunately continues to grow,” Priebus said as he released the report, drawn up by panelists with strong ties to “big-tent” Republicans who have long favored more inclusive policies opposed by ideological purists.

Despite party disagreements, the audit recommended a $10 million minority outreach program designed to market the Republican brand to gay voters, women and racial minorities, a proposal that comes just months after those voting groups helped propel Obama to re-election.

While not specifically mentioning issues such as same-sex marriage, the report noted:

“We believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people, all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case.

“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities. But it is not just tone that counts. Policy always matters.”

But the party’s stance on issues related to gay rights appears to have affected even the more conservative members, as illustrated this past weekend at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, (CPAC) held in suburban Washington D.C.

Buzzfeed reporter Chris Geidner noted that anti-gay Washington lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who had successfully fought to keep the gay Republican group GOProud barred from participating at CPAC, found herself and National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown speaking to a nearly empty room, which had been filled to capacity in previous year’s gatherings.

An hour later, GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia told a packed, standing room only crowd at CPAC, “We have tolerated something in our movement for far too long: anti-gay bigotry.”

LaSalvia attended CPAC as a guest of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which hosted a panel on which LaSalvia appeared, “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.”

“Let me be clear, I do not believe that just because someone opposes same-sex marriage that that automatically makes them a homophobe,” said LaSalvia. “But there are, however, a few. There are a few in our movement who just don’t like gay people. In 2013, that just isn’t OK in America anymore.”

The GOP’s full report is here.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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28 more reader comments:

  1. Do they really think they have any credibility!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:57pm

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:59pm
  3. It would work better if they’d stop blocking marriage equality and ease off the poor

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 4:59pm
  4. no way I’m voting Republican, it’s Green Party (or Democratic) for me!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:00pm
  5. considering that the GOP has been the single most unified enemy of gay people and minorities in this country, I dont think that will work out

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:00pm
  6. What a joke…

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:01pm
  7. They are at WAR…with reality, with nature herself.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:02pm
  8. LOL — I can’t wait to vote for candidates who are contemptuous of me!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:03pm
  9. It ainʻt ever gonna happen!! Thereʻs NO appeal to the Republican Party!!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:03pm
  10. This just in… Republican Party realizes to get LGBTQ votes they must become… wait for it… Democrats.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:04pm
  11. The GOP hates so much, they are hating on each other now!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:07pm
  12. They just can’t wrap their brains around the fact that we are in the 21st Century and a majority of Americans approve of same sex marriage

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:09pm
  13. seriously, they are joking right?? attracting gay and lesbian people seriously??? After the way that they have treated the lgbt for the last 12 years???

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:11pm
  14. I really could care less for anything related to politics, but if the GOP would get their heads out of their asses…

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:12pm
  15. I suspect the republicans will not cave in to their Rick Santorum, Rick Perry social backward 19th Century Republican conservative base. They might try to offer some lame version of civil, but unequal right, but it will still be discrimination. Civil unions are NOT The same as marriages and they would be hurt financially and otherwise with the civil union. Marriage should be, and is, regulated by the state. Marriage is a legal contract between two people. That’s why you have to go to the local courthouse, fill out paperwork, and get a license. It’s unconstitutional to allow some people to enter into a contract, but not others.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:14pm
  16. from what i can see…it’s all about competing and winning and being powerful…for the republican party..

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:15pm
  17. And as noted on the Report Minutes after the report came out publicly the Chairman of the Republican Party said, “this is not my report.” So immediately the republican party that put this report together immediately ran away from the ideas on the report. So how can you say that they actually are going to take on the ideas on the report and broaden their support for the lgbt!!! I think NOT!!!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:17pm
  18. the only gay voters for the GOP are rich gays— who want to protect their money more than their rights –which is really messed up!!!!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:25pm
  19. Wow. Smh. The gop is kidding itself.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:31pm
  20. Hey, I also find it hilarious that if they so want to implement changes, then why today did they block a call for raising the minimum wage, thought they wanted to make their party more inviting and more inclusive- you can’t doing it by telling people they shouldn’t get paid more money to help make themselves stronger citizens! lol

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:33pm
  21. You can paint a turd gold but its still a turd.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:50pm
  22. Is this roadmap the Chasing Amy four way intersection? Don’t see if happening until we have an amendment allowing same sex marriage to avoid these idiotic legal battles.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:00pm
  23. GOProud are a very dangerous conservative gay force…beware….

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:10pm
  24. Pray and discuss and remind. Please. Oh Gawd.

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 6:45pm
  25. in other words, lie to get the vote in 2014 and then continue the same crap

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 7:06pm
  26. Good luck with that, blokes!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 7:33pm
  27. it’ll never happen…f**king hypocrites!

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 7:42pm
  28. well, if so they would have to change their whole party platform. It would become inter-sectional… Because gays (especially lesbian couples) are usually those who are middle-class folks which conservative parties harm the most… And think about Transgender people………

    Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 8:27pm