The Republican Party continues to struggle with its intentions moving forward in regards to LGBT equality. In its autopsy report of the 2012 elections — its “Growth & Opportunity Project” — the gay community was the one group that the Party was not actually interested in reaching out to. Instead, the plan was to convince young people to support conservative principles even if they support LGBT rights. Since then, GOP chairman Reince Priebus has attempted to model this by citing his own marriage as an example for building bridges and suggesting Mike Huckabee, a very vocal opponent of equality, be an ambassador on gay issues.
This week, both Priebus and potential presidential prospect Jeb Bush have both been a bit more candid about their intentions to simply sugarcoat their opposition to equality so it doesn’t sound so anti-gay. Bush told Newsmax that a different tone that expresses opposition to same-sex marriage “in a civil way” that is “not judgmental” would help keep conservatives united:
BUSH: I know for a fact that as it relates to gay marriage and other social issues there is growing divergence of opinion on this. When we talk about it, we ought to talk about it with a different tone — and we ought to talk about it recognizing that there is more than one point of view, and we should talk about it in a way that is not judgmental. If we can get to that point where people who have diverging points of view and express them in a civil way, the conservative coalition can stay intact.
Priebus, in turn, told USA Today that opposition to equality can be presented with “grace and respect”:
“We do have a platform, and we adhere to that platform,” Priebus said in an interview Monday on USA TODAY’s Capital Download video series. “But it doesn’t mean that we divide and subtract people from our party” who support the right of gay men and lesbians to marry.
“I don’t believe we need to act like Old Testament heretics,” he said, saying Republicans “have to strike a balance between principle and grace and respect.”
What the Republican Party cannot seem to accept is that no polishing of this message amounts to respect, grace, or civil discourse. Inequality is inequality, and no changes in tone can change that the GOP platform specifically calls for one group of people to be treated as second-class citizens.