Two years after pushing for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the North Carolina Republican Party is stepping back a bit from its opposition to LGBT equality. Qnotes reports that its 2014 platform, adopted this weekend, makes some noticeable changes.
Perhaps most notable is that the platform no longer calls for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide, reflecting a trend of many Republican candidates who are no longer pressing for such a measure. The North Carolina platform still endorses support for the state’s marriage amendment, encouraging “all efforts to defend it.”
Also gone from the platform is opposition to “adoption by same sex couples,” which was replaced with support for single parents, who should be “treated with respect and dignity.” The newest platform additionally abandons problematic language that left room for discrimination based on sexual orientation, instead calling on government to “treat all citizens impartially and equally under the law” and opposing discrimination “in any form.”
One plank maintained in the platform, however, addresses the sex education curriculum for public schools. “Abstinence until marriage,” it reads, should be taught as “the expected norm for sexual behavior.” Given marriage is reserved for different-sex couples in North Carolina, this line seems to leave little room for students who might have a same-sex orientation. Indeed, the platform clarifies this intent: “Public schools should not be used to teach children about homosexual behavior.” North Carolina’s sex ed laws already imply that gay sex is inherently unhealthy, asserting that a “mutually faithful monogamous heterosexual relationship in the context of marriage is the best lifelong means of avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.”
North Carolina has recently played host to some interesting conversations about LGBT issues, in part because it was the very last state to successfully pass a constitutional ban (“Amendment 1”) on same-sex marriage. The United Church of Christ, joined by some other religious groups, is challenging that ban on religious liberty grounds. A candidate for the Orange County register of deeds has promised to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if he wins, in direct violation of Amendment 1. Additionally, Clay Aiken, the openly gay American Idol runner-up, is challenging Tea Party incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) for her seat in Congress in one of the most visible midterm elections in the state.
Though many Republicans are moderating how they speak about LGBT issues and other social issues, the tone shift is not consistent across the party nationally. While the Nevada Republican Party voted, for example, to strip opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion from its platform entirely, the Texas Republican Party just endorsed ex-gay therapy this weekend.