Secession and school choice are out — at least for now — but a constitutional convention of the states and an anti-transgender “bathroom” ban are in.
A Texas GOP committee worked feverishly Thursday night to finalize the party’s proposed 2016 platform in time for it to be printed and distributed to 10,000 delegates to the state convention in Dallas, who’ll vote on the document plank-by-plank Friday afternoon.
The party’s 31-member Permanent Platform Committee heard from dozens of speakers, most of whom advocated for an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution in response to perceived federal overreach. Governor Greg Abbott has made the idea the hallmark of his tenure so far. Committee members listened, opting to make a bill calling for such a convention one of the party’s five legislative priorities in the platform, replacing school choice.
“A belligerent opponent does not surrender because of what you have the capability of doing or what you’ve done previously,” state Senator Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, told the committee. “He surrenders because of what you are willing to do. As long as states say we’re not willing to do an Article V convention, federal government won’t bend.”
Before adding the constitutional convention plank, the committee narrowly voted to remove another calling for a non-binding statewide referendum vote on whether Texas should secede from the union.
“We, as Texans, we never cut and run,” said committee member Adam Hinojosa, who made the motion to remove the pro-secession plank. “We always face the problem head on, and this would be in direct conflict to propose both a convention of the states and a secession plank in our platform.”
Although the secession plank was removed from the proposed platform, it could be reintroduced by delegates on the floor Friday.
Just as the committee was hearing from speakers who railed against federal overreach, news broke that the Obama administration plans to issue a directive telling public school districts to allow trans students to use restrooms based on their gender identity. Texas’ proposed platform also contains a new plank that runs directly counter to the pending Obama directive.
“We support public school facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and showers be reserved for the use of students based on biological birth gender,” the document states.
The anti-trans bathroom plank is one of several new anti-LGBT measures in the platform, as the culture wars have again dominated this year’s convention.
Another new plank calls for the state to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality, while others seek to preserve the right of businesses to turn away same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.
The committee also restored a sentence that was removed a day earlier from the party’s longstanding plank opposing homosexuality.
“Homsexuality is a chosen bevaior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans,” the sentence states.
The sentence had been removed because some committee members found it overly divisive and said it contained no basis for policy. But committee member Stephen Broden, an anti-LGBT activist and former GOP house candidate from Houston, said the sentence provides the Biblical authority for the remainder of the anti-homoseuality plank.
“If we take that language out, it makes it look like we’re just picking on a group of Texans for no other reason than we just disagree with their lifestyle,” Broden said.
Read the proposed platform below:
[Follow live updates from the 2016 Republican Party of Texas convention here.]