Illustration: Jim Cooke

“It’s the most anti-LGBT platform in history,” said Gregory T. Angelo of the 2016 Republican Platform, which was released in its entirety on Monday. That’s quite an admission coming from the president of the best known gay conservative group in the country, the Log Cabin Republicans. Indeed, this year’s platform—which, it bears noting, Donald Trump is under no obligation to uphold as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee—is totally gay for anti-LGBT legislation.

The platform condemns “redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories,” which is a reference to the increased visibility of trans Americans since the Republicans last wrote a party platform. The agenda of Obama and liberal lawmakers “has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power,” according to the GOP.

The platform tips its hat to gay conversion therapy in a section reportedly drafted by Tony Perkins, an RNC delegate and president of the Family Research Council, a group which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled “extremist” and describes “its real specialty” as “defaming gays and lesbians.” “We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children,” reads the section in question. (Time reports that the language was initially more explicit in regard to conversion therapy.)

The party platform also calls for the overturning of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal in all states:

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad. The reality remains that millions of American families do not have the advantages that come with that structure. We honor the courageous efforts of those who bear the burdens of parenting alone and embrace the principle that all Americans should be treated with dignity and respect. But respect is not enough. Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason, as explained elsewhere in this platform, we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states. We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities which decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go again.

All of this is, on its face, absurd. We’ve had marriage equality in this country now for over a year and civilization has not collapsed. In fact, the major outcomes are an estimated $1.5 billion in national and state revenue generated by same sex marriages, (and here I was thinking money to Republicans was like dick to gay men), and some hostile resistance on the part of straight business owners. Perkins’s flirtation with conversion therapy is also hypocritical—for years, the anti-gay bigot cried loudly to “Save our children,” and yet we have piles of evidence regarding the damage caused by conversion/reparative therapy, including the American Psychological Association’s rejection of it. Save our children by letting them be who they are.

Much has been made by the right over the years of the so-called “gay agenda,” as though LGBT people are crusading for sport or more nefarious purposes (such as, I suppose, the right to molest children). This is nothing but hate-mongering, devoid of underlying facts, which if you haven’t noticed, is an effective way to win support. This is agenda for agenda’s sake.

This agenda comes after decades of a theoretically flimsy, if grand tradition of anti-LGBT Republican sentiment. Prior to 1992, the GOP party platform tended to make only vague reference to “family values,” without explicitly acknowledging the existence of queer or trans people.

Then, in 1992, the GOP asserted that it did not think that LGBT people should be a protected minority:

We also stand united with those private organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, who are defending decency in fulfillment of their own moral responsibilities. We reject the irresponsible position of those corporations that have cut off contributions to such organizations because of their courageous stand for family values. Moreover, we oppose efforts by the Democrat Party to include sexual preference as a protected minority receiving preferential status under civil rights statutes at the federal, State, and local level.

Also in ‘92:

We oppose any legislation or law which legally recognizes same-sex marriages and allows such couples to adopt children or provide foster care.


Unlike the Democrat Party and its candidate, we support the continued exclusion of homosexuals from the military as a matter of good order and discipline.

By 1996, the phrase “sexual preference” entered the platform. The writing argued against protecting it under anti-discrimination statutes:

We oppose discrimination based on sex, race, age, creed, or national origin and will vigorously enforce anti-discrimination statutes. We reject the distortion of those laws to cover sexual preference, and we endorse the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent states from being forced to recognize same-sex unions. Because we believe rights inhere in individuals, not in groups, we will attain our nation’s goal of equal rights without quotas or other forms of preferential treatment. We scorn Bill Clinton’s notion that any person should be denied a job, promotion, contract or a chance at higher education because of their race or gender.

The 2000 platform used similar language regarding one-man-one-woman arrangements and also said: “...We do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law.”

The 2004 platform went on at length regarding the vague potential hazards of allowing gays to marry:

We strongly support President Bush’s call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage. After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard.

2008's rhetoric came with condescending square quotes around “marriage” when used to describe how it might be applied to gays:

A Republican Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, affirming the right of states not to recognize same-sex “marriages” licensed in other state.

That was before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed and still a major concern for those on either side of the political divide. “To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America’s Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timelessness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service.” The 1996, 2000, and 2004 platforms all contained the same line regarding gays in the military: “We affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service.” The six years after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell have proved the GOP incorrect.

The 2012 Republican Platform had plenty of spite to go around. It sought to defend “marriage against an activist judiciary,” fight for DOMA, support the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies. “We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights,” it said. “The effectiveness of our foreign aid has been limited by the cultural agenda of the current Administration, attempting to impose on foreign countries, especially the peoples of Africa, legalized abortion and the homosexual rights agenda,” it claimed.

This year’s platform does, point for point, make it the most anti-LGBT platform in history. For one thing, it’s expanded to include anti-trans rhetoric, which makes sense in that transgender people are more visible in culture than ever and thus a threat to the GOP’s monoculture fantasy. Trans people, of course, are more likely to be hungry-hungry than power-hungry, and when it comes to bathrooms, they just want a place to piss. According to Giovanni Cicione, the Rhode Island delegate who petitioned against the 2016 platform, “The RNC is not interested in having floor debates on anything this year.” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who co-chaired the platform committee, defended it by telling CNN, “There were gay people on the platform committee themselves.” ThinkProgress pointed out, however, that there was actually a gay person on the committee: Rachel Hoff who is also the first openly gay Republican to ever serve on the platform committee.

Surely, for gay Republicans, it must be getting more difficult to remain with the party. Milo Yiannopoulos stood outside the RNC yesterday arguing for a gay-Trump alliance based on the common ground of Islamaphobia. He referenced Omar Mateen’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in June, which is at least more complicated than a Muslim-shoots-gays scenario. Among the questions about Mateen about which we can still mostly speculate: Was Mateen queer himself? Were his ties to ISIS merely aspirational? Was he just a maniac despite his upbringing and sexuality? Yiannopoulous also ignored the existence of gay Muslims, but what else is new in America? In the wake of Orlando, Trump attempted to position himself as a friend to “the gays,” only to, weeks later, voice support of North Carolina’s hotly debated HB2 “bathroom bill,” and then choose as his running mate Mike Pence, who has a long history of opposing LGBT rights.

Trump’s discourse is fueled by inconsistency, while the GOP has been reliably anti-gay since gay became a thing to fear. Strange bedfellows they may seem, but they’re also logical allies.