American enlightenment on the basic rights of gay Americans has evolved rapidly. Just 22 years ago, in 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which specifically denied federal benefits and protections to same-sex couples. Democrat and social-progressive President Bill Clinton signed it into law.
The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans didn't instantly end intolerance, but it took the issue out of the political arena.
For most Americans today, the idea that gays have the legal right to marry is about as radical as a ham sandwich.
In advance of its convention this weekend in Evansville, the Indiana Republican Party quite sensibly proposed eliminating a phrase that was reaffirmed in 2016: “strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society.” Instead, the platform would state the party's belief that “strong families are the foundation of society.”
The proposed revision not only tacitly acknowledges the right of gays to marry but recognizes that strong families, for a variety of reasons, may not always be built around a mother and a father.
This being Indiana, where some of the fiercest battles over gay rights in the country have been waged, a group calling itself the Republican Victory Committee objected to the change. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, and former 3rd DistrictRep. Marlin Stutzman are among those opposed.
State GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer surrendered under the pressure, announcing Wednesday he will allow delegates to vote on their preferred version: the 2016 language stating strong families are “based on marriage between a man and a woman” and the 2018 proposal, with the wording removed.
Party stalwarts should stand their ground. Eliminating the man/woman reference is not just an acknowledgment of reality. It's also smart politics. Anyparty – no matter how successful it's been in recent elections – should avoid marginalizing single parents, gays, and divorced and widowed people. A party as dominant as theIndiana GOP should be willing to make room in its tent for all kinds of Hoosiers.