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A Gay Republican Has Advice For The Texas Republican Party

He calls on changing the platform from policies to principles.

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The Texas Republican Party recently adopted a platform that, among other things, endorses the widely-discredited practice of so-called "reparative therapy" for gays and lesbians.

But one gay Republican leader says the negative attention the Texas GOP has received for its stance could actually be a good thing – if it somehow prods the party to eventually change the platform, and the platform making process.

Rudy Oeftering serves as vice-president of Metroplex Republicans. That's a gay GOP group based in Dallas. After decades of supporting a political party explicitly hostile toward gays, Oeftering decided it was time to do something about it.

“We’ve come to a point now where we believe enough hearts and minds have been changed that we need to push back against the isolated holdouts that want to continue to have the Republican Party identified with anti-gay language and anti-gay rhetoric in the party platform,” Oeftering said.

Oeftering’s efforts at this year’s convention didn’t get him very far. Some anti-gay language, such as the declaration that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, was taken out. But new language, including the endorsement of therapy intended to turn gay people straight, went in.

“I went to the Chairman of the platform committee. I went to the Executive Director, the night before the convention started. And I told them that if this language remained in the platform, it would be the story of the convention. We were ignored,” Oeftering said.

Oeftering blames the platform rhetoric on two things: the GOP’s lingering ill will toward gays, and a platform that is bloated and unwieldy.

“We have over 250 platform positions, including positions on light bulbs, when you should water your lawn. That’s how detailed and how out-of-control the platform process is,” Oeftering said.

He says the party should quit taking stands on specific policies and, instead, build a platform around a much smaller set of guiding principles.

“We can get down to a serious set of core principles, and avoid all these policy debates over the issues that are dividing the party, rather than uniting it — and chasing people away from the party, rather than inviting them in,” Oeftering said.

Houston Public Media contacted the Texas GOP to get its take on Oeftering’s idea to streamline the platform by eliminating hundreds of policies in favor of a dozen or so principles. But the party did not return any phone or e-mail messages.

University of St. Thomas Political Science chair Jon Taylor says overhauling the platform would require significant rule changes.

“And lots of luck on doing that, because it is fascinating to watch a party convention because you really do get the true devotees — people who are just completely ensconced in the idea of rules, ensconced in the idea of making some sort of statement. And it’s fascinating where you get fights over semi-colons and periods, literally,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes with the Libertarian wing of the Texas GOP getting stronger, chances are good that the endorsement of reparative therapy that went into the platform this year will come out when the platform is revised in 2016.

 

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David Pitman

David Pitman

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David was HPM’s local Morning Edition host from 2009 to 2020 -- when he was moved to the position of Technical Director of Houston Matters with Craig Cohen, and Town Square with Ernie Manouse. David has extensive public and commercial broadcast journalism and production experience dating back to 1993 –...

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