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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 05, 2018 1:00 am

GOP family rule finds resistance

1-man, 1-woman backers launch effort

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A group of high-profile Republicans –  including northeast Indiana's congressman – is pushing back against a move to change the Indiana Republican Party platform language on family and marriage.

A new entity called the Republican Victory Committee set up a website and sent out a statement Monday regarding the proposal to remove a reference to marriage being between a man and a woman from the platform.

The group says the move also backs away from the concept of marriage as the basis for strong families.

“The current strong families plank was adopted with over 90 percent support in 2014 and an effort to delete it was defeated in 2016 by an even larger number,” the committee said. “The overwhelming majority of local grass roots Republicans believe that marriage is an important ingredient for a strong family. And the current strong families plank was itself a compromise that gained support from a wide spectrum of Republicans.”

The proposal was leaked Friday and then released in full by the Indiana Republican Party in advance of this weekend's state convention. Delegates will vote on the platform as well as make official the party's statewide office nominations.

It is the first significant change under Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer – tapped by Gov. Eric Holcomb – since Vice President Mike Pence left the state to serve in Washington, D.C.

The current platform states:

“WE BELIEVE, in strong families. We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society. We also recognize that some families are much more diverse and we support the blended families, grandparents, guardians and loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”

The proposed changes to the 2018 platform would be:

“We believe in strong families. We believe that strong families are the foundation of society and that such families bring forth citizens capable of self-government, as well as properly-motivated public servants so essential for a successful republic. We support traditional families with a mother and father, blended families, grandparents, guardians, single parents and all loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”

Those on the list supporting the current language include U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd; U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th; six local state representatives; two former Indiana Republican Chairmen; conservative attorney Jim Bopp; several high-profile pro-family conservatives; former Congressman Marlin Stutzman; a host of state lawmakers and several members of the 2018 platform committee – including Cathie Humbarger of Indiana Right to Life.

“The language was changed last time and is so innocuous that I find it hard to believe too many people could be offended by it,” Banks said. “Changing it seems to be ill advised. I support the language as it stands today.”

He noted it matches the national GOP platform, and said he signed on in hopes that “leadership will allow a robust discussion and opportunity for every delegate” to have input, settle the dispute and “move on to winning elections.”

Some Republicans have pushed for more inclusive language now that same-sex marriage is legal. Hupfer said he thinks the proposed language still recognizes traditional marriage and puts the rightful focus on raising strong children.

The Republican Victory Committee said the change distances the state from a key conservative voting base that supported President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence.

“It would be unfortunate if this misguided effort to distance ourselves from the Trump/Pence leadership was viewed as a slap in their face,” the group said. “As a result, we hope that the current INGOP leadership will reconsider their insistence on changing our current strong families plank. Considering the past overwhelming support for marriage and our current strong families language, it seems that the best course of action is to leave it alone.”

Any delegate is eligible to offer an amendment with a full vote on the convention floor.

nkelly@jg.net