Delegates: GOP platform more socially conservative

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Cleveland — Delegates at the Republican National Convention adopted a party platform that supporters touted as the most socially conservative in decades, reinforcing the GOP’s opposition to gay marriage just a year after the Supreme Court legalized it.

Republicans reinforced the party’s public policy beliefs and goals by stating that marriage is reserved for only one man and one woman.

Social conservatives defeated efforts to define marriage as an institution between “husband and wife” because it could be interpreted to include individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“There was probably six or seven attempts to get LGBT — those four letters — added to the platform and they were voted down,” said Meshawn Maddock, one of two Michigan delegates on the Republican National Convention Platform Committee. “I’m happy about that.”

Dave Agema, Michigan’s outgoing Republican National Committeeman, said the new platform is “25 to 30 percent more conservative” than the 2012 document.

“What they did, I think, surprised the establishment,” Agema said.

Agema has been an outspoken critic of GOP leaders who have softened their stance on same-sex marriage in an effort to expand the party’s tent beyond its socially conservative base.

“The new platform gets evangelicals back under the tent,” he said.

Changes to the party’s governing philosophies include adopting presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for a wall to be built along the Mexican border, although it does not specifically call for Mexico to pay for it as Trump has demanded.

“It was such a huge pillar of the Trump campaign getting him through the primary,” said state Sen. Joe Hune, a Fowlerville Republican who served on the platform committee. “I think it’s instrumental and a good issue to run on this fall.”

The platform vote Monday afternoon during the first day of the Republican National Convention was less controversial than a move anti-Trump delegates made to let delegates vote their conscience — and against the nominee.

Some social conservatives have been suspect of Trump because of his three marriages and past vocal support of abortion.

Heading into the national convention’s platform-writing committee meetings last week, there was a fear that Trump might try to move the party away from its traditional stance on marriage.

Marian Sheridan, an alternate for Trump from West Bloomfield Township, was relieved Trump appears to be embracing the party’s platform.

“It sends a huge signal to so many in the grassroots base in the party that what he is saying is something they can trust,” Sheridan said. “I like to hear that they’re clarifying the definition of man and wife.”

The new platform includes additional language stating the GOP’s opposition to public funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood and the “cruelest forms of abortion, especially dismemberment abortion procedures, in which unborn babies are literally torn apart limb from limb.”

“That is very strong language and we as a party condemn that,” said Maddock, the 11th Congressional District delegate for Trump.

Tamara Carlone, a delegate from Novi, said the Republican Party should not have the same stance on marriage as Democrats, who have embraced same-sex marriage under an equality message.

“I think the Republican Party has to set itself from the Democratic Party,” Carlone said. “If you’re both the same, you’re not going to attract anybody.”

Carlone is the 11th Congressional District delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but publicly pledging support for Trump.

Dan Ebben, a 25-year-old Republican activist from Novi, is attending the convention as a guest of Carlone. As millennial, he’s not concerned the GOP’s continued opposition to gay marriage could turn off younger voters.

“I think the idea of compromising on our principles to widen the audience, we end up losing as much of the existing audience,” Ebben said.

(517) 371-3661

Twitter: @Chad livengood