July 13, 2016 - Wednesday
The GOP Platform: Solid, Conservative
Republicans now have a platform to stand on, a solidly conservative platform. The GOP platform committee met for two days with 112 delegates from every state and territory and came to a consensus, a conservative consensus for the principles of the Grand Old Party. There was lively discussion on a number of issues ranging from agriculture to economics, to health care, to immigration, to national security. Issues affecting the national moral and cultural climate were also prominently discussed among the delegates from all 50 states and U.S. territories. I am very happy to say that the final platform document overwhelmingly approved by the delegates may be the strongest statement of conservative principles by a GOP platform to date. As Gayle Rozika, a Utah delegate for whom this was the 6th platform, told me this is the most conservative platform in her experience. Her efforts, along with those of delegates like Carolyn McLarty (Okla.), Len Munsil (Ariz.), David Barton (Texas), Jim and Judy Carns (Ala.), Kris Kobach (Kan.), Sandy McDade (La.) and a host of other conservative leaders were effective in ensuring the GOP platform provides a clear and compelling understanding of the core conservative principles that those associated with the Republican party prioritize and pursue.
Our coalition of delegates -- including FRC Action and other groups like the March for Life Action, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America -- proved invaluable. The platform is an important document, showing the Party of Lincoln continues to respect freedom, and the rule of law, the idea that all humans deserve respect, not because of some category, but because we have inherent dignity and are made in the image of our Creator. The platform is a useful document -- a standard for the party in local, state, and federal elections, use in town halls, and it provides standards to which we should hold our elected officials. Platform Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), led by co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Va.) and Governor Mary Falin (R-Okla.) all did an excellent job allowing delegates to offer amendments and debate the issues with sincerity and respect. They deserve much respect for their efforts.
Here are some key takeaways from the platform for social conservatives:
- The already pro-life plank of the GOP added a call to enforce born-alive protections, and to stop the Gosnell-like murder of babies born alive and probably violations of federal law by Planned Parenthood. As the new platform will say, "we oppose infanticide" – a declaration that the Democrats in the House of Representatives and Planned Parenthood opposed! The platform also for the first time calls for redirecting taxpayer dollars away not only from abortion providers, as the 2012 platform did, but specifically the nation's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The platform calls for allowing states the flexibility to exclude such providers in their Medicaid programs.
- The platform contains conscience protections for health care providers, which I was able to strengthen by adding doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in anticipation of the historic House vote today on the Conscience Protection Act. This act protects against the administration's refusal to enforce current law protecting against government discrimination of health care providers and health plans which object to participation of abortion.
- I also offered an amendment on conscience, for the right of parents to determine not only the medical treatment for their minor children, but also therapy. As mental health awareness has become all the more common with suicide, addiction, and many other struggles, parents should be able to decide the best treatment and therapy for their children, not the government.
- And while the platforms of the past affirmed no taxpayer funding for abortion, this platform improved its call for a government-wide Hyde Amendment to bar funding for abortion and health care plans with abortion coverage, something which the Democrats' draft platform now calls for a repeal.
- With the overturning of the institution of marriage by the Supreme Court, the pressure to force millions of Americans to adopt same-sex marriage threatens individuals, charities, and businesses alike. Reaffirming support for marriage between one man and one woman was a key victory of the platform, and affirming the traditional family -- which is where, as social science clearly shows, children thrive best.
- It calls for removal of marriage penalties in public assistance programs to help strengthen families struggling in today's tough economy. Twice adding language calling for conscience protections -- including the First Amendment Defense Act as introduced -- related to those who support marriage between one man and one woman was a victory for the idea that the government should not punish people for supporting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
- That a few but very vocal and significantly financed LGBT delegates tried to highjack the platform reflects the growing challenge to agree to disagree. The new platform however, stands firm in its resolution that the government should not fine or punish people for their support of marriage. When these delegates tried repeatedly to add special protections for their lifestyle choices, the majority affirmed their dignity because of their humanity. Sandy McDade (La.) and I were able to successfully offer an amendment opposing the atrocities of terrorists against all people, because of their humanity, not just some people, who have chosen to be identified by their sexual behavior.
- The importance of religious freedom was more present in this platform given attacks by this administration trying to quarantine religious exercise to the four walls of the church or synagogue. It called for religious liberty for Americans not only in a house of worship, "but also in their everyday lives." Repeal of the "Johnson Amendment," which imposes a tax regime on pastors or non-profits, was included in the platform -- something Donald Trump endorses.
- And the platform calls for greater protections for chaplains and all military personnel, including a call for the Defense Department to train its military commanders about the current First Amendment and Defense Authorization religious liberty protections, instead of, as this platform says, using the military for social experimentation. The ability for schools to voluntarily choose to teach the Bible as literature was adopted, as well as opposing genocide of religious minorities in the Middle East.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.