Everything’s bigger in Texas. Even Republican homophobia.
At the state GOP’s convention last week, the party went all in in approving a platform that attacks every version of LGBTQ rights that the party could think of.
As might be expected, the party leaders gave their full-throated approval to religious liberty measures that would infringe on nondiscrimination protections. “We support the removal of laws and regulations that are used to force business owners and employees to violate their sincerely held beliefs,” the platform says.
The platform also took multiple swipes at trans rights, starting with the acknowledgment that transgender people even exist. “We oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity,” the platform reads. The Republicans also condemn “gender norming” in the military.
As for schools, “The official position of the Texas schools with respect to transgenderism is that there are only two genders: male and female.” That also means no bathroom accommodations for transgender students. Just to be on the safe side, the platform also calls for banning “sexual indoctrination” in schools, as well as sex education in general.
Of course, bigotry is worth repeating, so the platform took every opportunity to reinforce its opposition to equal rights at every chance and in the broadest manner. The party’s overall statement on homosexuality is a model of 1980s right-wing thinking:
We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman, which has proven to be the foundation for all great nations in Western Civilization. We oppose homosexual marriage, regardless of state of origin. We urge the Texas Legislature to pass religious liberty protections for individuals, businesses, and government officials who believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.
Believe it or not, the Log Cabin Repuhlicans are claiming a victory with that statement. The last platform condemned homosexuality as “a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths.” Somehow, the new platform is meant to represent a more moderate form of homophobia.
Of course, the crusade against the 21st century isn’t confined to LGBTQ rights. The platform also calls for the protection of Confederate monuments, the repeal of the federal minimum wage, and the abolition of daylight savings time. (The party passed up the opportunity to revisit the law of gravity.)
In one sense, none of this is a surprise. This is the state party of Ted Cruz, after all.
But doubling down on positions that reinforce the Republican party’s image as anti-everything in a state where the demographics are rapidly changing is not a good long-term strategy. Cruz faces a credible challenger in Democrat Beto O’Rourke, and it’s not out of the question that Democratic enthusiasm makes the state a lot less friendly for Republicans this fall.
Of course, November is still a long way off. In the meantime, the Texas GOP can party like it’s 1979 again. They’ve got the platform for it.