Indiana Republicans voted on Saturday to keep Mike Pence’s legacy intact.
During Pence’s four-year tenure as governor, the state’s GOP voted in 2014 to add language to its party platform defining marriage as “between a man and a woman.” The vice president, who signed a law allowing people of faith to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals the following year, was viewed instrumental enough in the vote that backers wore “pro-Pence, pro-marriage” in support of the decision.
In a biennial meeting of the Indiana Republican Party’s 1,494 delegates, conservatives overwhelmingly elected to keep its stance on marriage as is.
This weekend’s vote followed a proposal from State Chairman Kyle Hupfer, a close ally of current Gov. Eric Holcomb, to strike the five-word phrase from the Indiana GOP’s official platform. Instead it would be replaced with more inclusive language defining the family unit as “all loving adults” raising children.
“We support traditional families with a mother and father, blended families, grandparents, guardians, single parents and all loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day,” the proposal read.
The change from the 2014 version is subtle but profound.
“We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society,” the earlier version stated. “We also recognize that some families are much more diverse and we support the blended families, grandparents, guardians and loving adults who successfully raise and nurture children to reach their full potential every day.”
Hupfer told party members in an email last week that the proposal was drafted following “hundreds of emails and calls from every side.”
Michael Simpson, chairman of Porter County Republicans in northwest Indiana, claimed the amendment was necessary to ensure the GOP continues to evolve. In a speech delivered on the convention floor, he referred to it as “the best platform for our party and the best way for us to grow.”
But as the Evansville Courier and Press originally reported, many within the party felt conservatives got it right the first time.
“I felt that the 2016 language was inclusive,” claimed Rick Martin, who is a leader within the state GOP and an attorney in Warrick County. “It addressed other family units and didn’t need to be changed.”
Morgan County GOP Chairman Daniel Elliot said Saturday’s vote—which was reportedly followed by rapturous applause—is in line with the values and beliefs of “Hoosier Republicans. He told the Associated Press that the Republican platform “recognizes the reality… that most families are headed by married couples.”
That statement, though, ignores the fact that same-sex couples have been permitted to tie the knot in Indiana since 2014, before the Supreme Court extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in all 50 states.
In Baskin v. Bogan, three LGBTQ couples successfully lobbied the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana to strike down a 1997 statute forbidding same-sex marriages performed in other states from being recognized in Indiana. Pence, though, adamantly fought the couples’ landmark victory by instructing state agencies to proceed as if the ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional “had not been issued.”
Holcomb, who took over as governor after Pence was tapped to the vice-presidency in 2017, did not condemn the Indiana Republican Party’s vote on marriage equality. He said the divided deliberations recognize that the party is “big and diverse, with many different perspectives on issues we all care about.”
Hupfer likewise struck a positive note on the discussion over the GOP platform.
“The platform process has once again allowed for our party to engage in insightful and meaningful debate about various elements of the platform,” he claimed in the aforementioned email message.
A May report from Gallup’s Values and Morals poll found that record numbers of Americans (67 percent) support same-sex marriage. Republicans, however, continue to lag well behind the rest of the country. Just 44 percent of conservatives surveyed by the organization are in favor of allowing LGBTQ couples to wed.
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