The Republican Party of Texas passed its latest platform on Saturday, including two sections of anti-LGBT beliefs.
In the platform voted on by delegates at the party’s biennial convention, one section — called ‘Homosexuality and Gender Issues’ — states “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice.”
Chris Halbohn called that line “an unnecessarily gratuitous addition to the Republican Party of Texas’ platform.” Halbohn is president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston, an organization that represents LGBT conservatives.
“We exist to advance that niche voice within the Republican Party because there are plenty of gay conservatives out there, there are plenty of lesbian conservatives out there, and plenty of trans conservatives out there,” Halbohn told The Texas Newsroom Saturday.
The delegates also agreed on language that said Republicans don’t believe in “granting” special status to LGBTQ+ people, and also agreed on a plank that states the party opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity.”
Halbohn said he does agree the state should not grant special treatment for people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Currently, LGBTQ+ people do not have any special status or treatment in the country.
The Republican Party of Texas has been engulfed in controversy over its stance on LGBTQ+ issues, including excluding Log Cabin Republicans of Texas from the convention.
The party twice rejected the group’s application to have a booth at this year’s convention.
David Palmer, the public relations director of the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston, said there was no legitimate reason for the rejection.
“This is a political organization and not a church group,” Palmer said. “I think that the rules of the Republican Party of Texas have been disproportionately used against us to keep us from having a presence at the convention.”
Both Palmer and Halbohn attended the convention as delegates.
The decision to deny the group a booth caught the attention of national Republicans, including Donald Trump, Jr, the son of former President Trump.
“The Texas GOP should focus its energy on fighting back against the radical democrats and weak RINOs currently trying to legislate our 2nd Amendment rights away, instead of canceling a group of gay conservatives who are standing in the breach with us,” Trump Jr. told conservative outlet Breitbart.
The national Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement after the exclusion of the state chapter, calling the decision “narrow-minded” and “politically short-sighted.”
“The Texas Republican Party has an opportunity to play a pivotal role in our shared victory — but weak leadership that compromises the party’s appeal to a new generation of voters … should reassess their priorities,” the statement said. “Losers don’t get to change the course of the nation — only winners. And inclusion wins.”
State leaders at the convention talked plenty about how the party has made inroads in terms of diversity. They mentioned Congressmember-elect Mayra Flores, a Republican who became the first Mexican-born member of Congress after winning the Texas 34th District special election last week.
But the state party seems to have made it clear that they draw the line with LGBT people.
Jack Finger, a precinct chairman from San Antonio, agrees with excluding LGBT Republicans from the convention. He even protested the fact that the convention’s schedule made a mention of an event by the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas.
“Their ideas we consider are, quite frankly, evil,” Finger said. “We think their ideals will destroy our society.”
Throughout the conference, anti-LGBT flyers were passed around, including one that was titled “Be Alert and Aware of the Homosexual Agenda.”
On Saturday, delegates also voted on a different platform item that opposed same-sex marriage.
But some Republicans have recognized the party needs to do better to welcome more people.
“I have a real issue with people here — how are you going to tell me that you don’t stand firm on our principles but you don’t want another group in because you don’t think they do,” Jessica Steels, a delegate from College Station, said.
She added the party’s foundation doesn’t exclude LGBTQ people.
“Do I have a problem with (LGBT people)? Absolutely not,” Steels said. “Are they my comrades-in-arms on the side of conservatism? Yes, they are.”
David Gebhart, one of the delegates to the convention, unsuccessfully attempted to add some amendments to that section of the party’s platform, claiming it had words that were “inflammatory.”
“The other language that’s there does no benefit to our party,” Gebhart said. “And I just want to say, we are the Republican Party of Texas. We’re not the Westboro Baptist Church.”