INDIANAPOLIS – A familiar debate over marriage has surfaced once again in the Indiana Republican Party.
As the state convention nears, the GOP is working on an updated state party platform to be approved by delegates from around the state.
But key conservatives aren't happy with proposed changes – which would eliminate specific wording about marriage between a man and a woman.
“It is a weak statement of pure mush,” said Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana. “Why would the Indiana Republican Party, in the vice president's home state where he and Donald Trump won by 19 points, move left from the national platform and its base of Hoosier voters?
“The Indiana Republican Party should stand for something, and not turn its back on a massive part of its base known as 'values voters,'” Clark said.
Clark sent the statement in an email to supporters and encouraged them to contact Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer.
Hupfer responded Friday by saying the proposed language is an attempt to include various Republicans and their family structures.
“This is not a marriage platform. It's about children,” he said. “It is somewhat compromise language that is inclusive. Our goal was to try not to offend anyone.”
The Indiana Republican Party adopts a platform every two years. In 2012, the language regarding gay marriage was removed, but in 2014, it was put back in, and a resolutions committee blocked an effort to strip the definition of marriage from the platform.
In 2016, hearings on the platform were held and some asked that the marriage provision be removed since same-sex-marriage was legal. But that effort failed.
Instead, delegates adopted this statement:
“WE BELIEVE in strong families. We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society. 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.”
Here is the proposed language:
“We believe in strong families. We believe that strong families are the foundation of society and that such families bring forth citizens capable of self-government as well as properly motivated public servants so essential for a successful republic. We support the 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.”
Megan Robertson, a gay Republican who has pushed for inclusivity in the past, said the new language is improved but could be simply left at “we believe in strong families” – particularly at a time when the opioid crisis is putting children in danger and LGBTQ couples are fostering and adopting them, providing safe homes.
“It is not the Republican Party's place to define what a strong family looks like, and it sure isn't Micah Clark's place,” she said. “Micah Clark doesn't care one bit about the Republican Party – that's why he leaked the platform language.”
Hupfer noted that the revision specifically says the party supports traditional families with a mother and father – a reference to marriage between a man and a woman.
But he said the language “puts the focus back on what it should be, which is raising strong children in a loving and productive society.”
Clark said the new language affirms anyone cohabiting or living together in any arrangement.
“The breakdown of marriage is a core reason why government has grown so large, and it is a key factor in nearly all of our social problems,” he said.
Hupfer said that because someone leaked the language, the full proposed platform is being placed on the state party site. He said one area that was strengthened in the new platform was the party's pro-life position.
The resolutions committee will vote on the proposal Friday.
He said any chance for an amendment would likely come on the convention floor before all delegates June 9.