Efforts to reform the Republican Party’s position on same-sex marriage failed Tuesday morning, as delegates meeting before the official start of the Republican National Convention considered two amendments that would have added support for some form of civil union.
The first—and more radical— proposal from Rhode Island delegate Barbara Fenton called for a total end to government-recognized marriage, to be replaced with a uniform recognition of civil unions for both straight and gay couples. Although Fenton, a Roman Catholic, said she personally opposes same-sex marriage, “those are my religious beliefs, and this country was founded on the separation of church and state.”
Opponents, including Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana, invoked the judgment of history. “This would move us away from a party that recognizes the benefits that marriage extends to a society,” said Perkins. “We recognize nature, we recognize history, that nature is the union of one man and one woman.”
A second proposal called for supporting civil unions for same-sex couples. Delegate Pat Kerby of Nevada, who proposed the amendment, said, “I believe this is an issue that will be a tipping point, and that we can take this stance and still keep our commitment to the institution of marriage.” Both proposals failed in a voice vote.
– Joe Harris