On Thursday, the 2014 Texas Republican Convention was officially called into session in Fort Worth. While outside the convention hall, Second Amendment enthusiasts proudly brandished their semiautomatic weapons as examples of their support for open carry, as my fellow associate editor discussed on Wednesday, inside, debate over the platform was front and center.
At issue were contentious fights over both immigration and LGBTQ rights. Nativist groups, inspired by the recent success of state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, in his Republican primary for lieutenant governor, lobbied hard for a plank supporting a limited guest worker program to be nixed. Meanwhile, in the area of social issues, the convention's platform subcommittee debated whether to move forward or backward. Early drafts show that language referring to homosexuality as an affliction that "tears at the fabric of society" was dropped, while a plank endorsing "gay conversion" therapies, which have been universally condemned by professional psychological associations as both ineffective and cruel, was added.
Republicans, at least those in touch with some of the harsh truths for the future of their party, must make important choices on these platform debates, ones that will guide how the party morphs in the face of a changing society. As Latinos make up a growing portion of the electorate, Republicans must soften their tone on immigration in order to remain viable. Not removing the only immigrant-friendly provision from their manifesto would be a good place to start.
Similarly, the country has already settled questions such as "Is homosexuality morally acceptable?" Both at the ballot box and in the board room, the answer in our society has been a resounding yes. However, the Texas Republican Party has been running behind. Once again, striking the most inflammatory and incendiary language regarding this issue would be a good starting point, though it would be useless if the asinine conversion plank were added in its place.