The Texas Republican Party’s new position on homosexuality – labeling it an “abnormal lifestyle choice” – was a last-minute amendment dropped into a platform draft with minimal discussion.
The platform committee – in a discussion in Houston that can be viewed on YouTube – had less than an hour to finish the draft when Chair Matt Patrick added the sentence, “Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice” to a section named Homosexuality and Gender Issues.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s a choice,” Patrick said. “We had that debate 20 years ago, that people were asserting that people were born that way, and that has been scientifically proven to be wrong. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s abnormal because of math.”
The majority of a normal distribution curve – the 68 percent under the curve – would be heterosexual, Patrick said. Those who label themselves homosexual are not just one, but two, standard deviations away from the middle of the curve.
“So, not only is it not normal, it’s extremely abnormal,” Patrick said. “It’s a clear factual statement, and it sets up a predicate to all the other things that we talk about here.”
The ultimate vote on adding the sentence to the plank was close – 17-14. It returns the Texas GOP platform to language more typical of the last 20 years.
Jason Vaughn, an openly gay Republican who represented the Houston area, said he rarely spoke on platform planks regarding homosexuality because they were often long discussed and negotiated across positions and with groups such as Texas Values and others.
“Look, abnormal? Yes, by the scientific mathematical definition, you are correct,” Vaughn said of Patrick's illustration. “But we could call Vietnamese Americans abnormal (on a distribution curve), too, because they’re a very small percentage of Americans.”
Vaughn, who has agreed to sign off on compromises in the past, said he’d prefer not to be included at all if the language was going to be shoehorned into the platform at the last minute.
“It’s harmful. It’s hurtful,” Vaughn said. “I was called a pedophile outside. Somebody screamed pedophile at me because I’m a gay man. That's never happened before."
Personal insults are not the way to move the Republican Party forward, Vaughn told his colleagues. Respecting each other would have meant discussing differences on different sides.
“I get it, we’re against gay marriage. That’s fine. I get it that we’re not there yet. That’s okay,” Vaughn said. “But these personal insults are beyond the pale for this party. It does nothing for love. It does nothing for policy. It doesn’t nothing for the Gospel.”
The balance of the paragraph on homosexuality stated no special legal entitlement should be created for homosexual behavior, and no civil penalties should be created to punish those who oppose homosexuality “out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”
Diana Richards, who represented West Texas, said it’s wasn’t about not loving people. It had to do with the difference between a lifestyle choice and being born into a subset.
“I have freckles, and somebody else doesn’t,” Richards said. “I can’t control a whole lot about that, but I don’t require special legal entitlements.”
Rolando Garcia, who also represented Houston, suggested returning the language to a more neutral version that was agreed to by all parties in 2018. The compromise was to identify what members of the Republican Party did, rather than did not, support: traditional Judeo-Christian values.
“This is not the right thing to do,” Garcia said. “I would encourage you to withdraw this amendment. This is not the way to work with 40 minutes left, to blow up language that a lot of other people worked very hard on.”
The Texas Republican Party also barred the Log Cabin Republicans from hosting a booth at the convention.
Michael Cargill, the director of the Texas Log Cabin Party, said Republicans would be better served in Texas focusing on traditional GOP values: smaller government, lower taxes and fixing the state's power grid.