Oregon GOP Removes Anti-Gay Language From Party Platform
September 13th, 2011
The Oregonian reports that the state’s Republicans, who have seen their fortunes in the state slide in recent years, have removed several anti-gay planks from the party’s platform:
Wording that essentially condemned same-sex marriage and civil unions, and that stated such couples were unfit to be parents, was removed from the official party platform during a weekend convention in Bend. “We want the public to take another look at the Republican Party and our policies,” said Greg Leo, spokesman for the state party. “It’s fair to say we’re more centrist.”
The once-dominant party has faded in Oregon. Democrats hold every statewide office and no Republican has been elected governor since 1987. The one bright spot is the Oregon House, where Republicans managed a 30-30 split with Democrats last election.
Part of the problem the Oregon GOP faced in the late 1980s is that the party became too closely associated with extremists Christian groups, most notably the Oregon Citizens Alliance, which was headed by Lon Mabon and is where Scott Lively first came into prominence. Oregon’s notorious Measure 9, which would have amended the state constitution to bar the state from using “monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism,” proved a significant turning point. It was then that Lively first put forward the historical fiction that the Nazi party was a homosexual organization and that violent fascism is the inevitable result of gay rights. Measure 9 went down in defeat in 1992 due largely to the outrageous rhetoric from the OCA and Lively. The OCA was soon disbanded amid controversy and financial irregularities and Lively fled to California to pick up his anti-gay work again in Sacramento and Temecula. Meanwhile, the GOP, which had been among the earliest state parties to align themselves to the Christian Right, have struggled to recover from that close association.
Today, the state GOP is turning over a new leaf, largely on the strength of younger members. The latest changes were pushed through by 26-year-old Xander Almedia, described as a former College Republican president at Portland State University and now a Portland vaudevillian who works with a local band:
(Alemdia) said, “a lot of younger Republicans don’t feel as though this kind of rhetoric has any place in a small government agenda. If we want to do small government, shouldn’t we get government out of the bedroom as well?”
Language supporting marriage as between one man and one woman remains intact in the party’s platform, but that merely comports with Oregon’s constitution, he said. The national Republican Party platform contains a section that strongly supports traditional marriage and calls for a constitutional amendment that would prevent states from adopting other legal arrangements.
The Oregon GOP change “makes a strong statement,” said James Moore, political analyst at Pacific University. “The statement that it makes is they have seen the social conservative platform hasn’t really gained them many new voters.”