The Alabama Republican Party rejected a proposed rule to remove steering committee members who disagreed with the party’s national platform on Saturday. The censorship attempt followed comments from the the chair of the state’s college Republicans noting that many young Republicans don’t share the party’s extreme anti-LGBT stances — a stance the panel also reaffirmed.
The 2012 Republican party platform, at the behest of a designated hate group, included strong anti-LGBT language and endorsed a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions. It blasted court rulings that same-sex relationships are entitled to equal legal respect as an “assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.” In April, the Republican National Committee reaffirmed this anti-gay position on a nearly unanimous vote.
Stephanie Petelos, chairwoman of the College Republican Federation of Alabama and former president of the University of Alabama College Republicans, told AL.com she supported the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act: “The majority of students don’t derive the premise of their argument for or against gay marriage from religion, because we’re governed by the constitution and not the Bible,” she observed, noting that many younger Republicans would be more actively for marriage equality “if they didn’t live in fear of backlash from party leaders.”
After that comment, she faced an immediate “backlash from party leaders.” Two members of the state party’s steering committee proposed an amendment to the party’s bylaws to say that no one could continue to serve in the party leadership who publicly advocates a position contrary to the national platform. The state party chairman, Bill Armistead, endorsed the idea, saying, “We cannot have party leaders standing up and denying what our platform says.”
Petelos said earlier this month that she had agreed “to not discuss the gay marriage issue further,” so she could keep her position on the state steering committee. After extensive debate Saturday, the 21-person steering committee rejected the bylaw amendment, on a reportedly lopsided vote. But immediately after, the same committee endorsed another resolution reaffirming the party’s opposition to LGBT equality.