(CTN News) – This week, Republican presidential candidates are gathering in California for the state’s second presidential primary debate. However, behind the scenes, another confrontation amongst state party members has been quietly brewing.
This weekend’s California Republican convention will feature a potentially divisive debate over amendments to the state party’s program that would water down rhetoric against abortion and same-sex marriage.
With this new plan, the California Republican Party would no longer express explicitly that it supports the view that “life begins at conception.” Also deleted is the phrase “it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
In a state where the GOP has not won a statewide election since 2006, a congressional subcommittee approved these amendments in July on the grounds that doing so could help the party attract new members.
However, a sizable number of veteran state party leaders are pushing back, and things may reach a head when delegates convene in Anaheim on Friday.
Professor at Loyola Law School and MSNBC contributor Jessica Levinson said NBC News, “I absolutely think it could get contentious this weekend because these are big issues that divide America and therefore divide Republicans in California.”
“To the extent that the establishment of the Republican Party feels like their party is being taken away from them, I think you’ll see fighting to keep that party,” she said.
And to the degree that younger and more diverse members of the party believe that the party’s narrow focus is stifling it, I think you’ll see really vigorous fighting to say we’ve got to spread out for the party to survive.
Los Angeles County delegate and Log Cabin Republican president Charles Moran is a proponent of the amendments. Log Cabin Republicans is the largest LGBT Republican organization in the country.
Former draught subcommittee member Moran criticized the present platform as “exclusionary” and stated opponents of the proposed amendments are “living in fantasyland.”
It’s time for the California Republican Party to modernise, Moran stated. “We have to update our methods.”
As evidence, he cited the recent polls showing that a majority of Americans are opposed to the reversal of Roe v. Wade and are supportive of same-sex marriage, as well as the voters’ overwhelming support for Proposition 1 in the last election cycle, which codified abortion access into California’s state constitution.
“The plank is still pro-life, but it’s not vitriolic and demonising people who do choose to have an abortion,” he said of the proposed platform.
“It still talks about the necessity of having a two-parent household and having two people in a committed relationship,” says one commentator, “but it doesn’t necessarily say that if you are pro-gay marriage or even support traditional marriage, you don’t necessarily have a home in the Republican Party.”
However, this stance has angered many Republicans in the state. Delegates have received emails from a handful of state party leaders over the past several days pushing them to vote down the new platform.
One email received by NBC News read, “Bud Light, Target, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts learned hard lessons when they embraced leftist extremism and forgot their base.”
“California Republicans must not make the mistake of giving in to the woke left rather than maintaining our unwavering commitment to traditional values and fundamental principles.”
One of the people advocating to maintain the platform unchanged is Harmeet Dhillon, chairwoman of the California Republican Party.
“A platform is not a vehicle for partisanship or the pursuit of fleeting popularity. Dhillon told NBC News that the issue was one of principle. Trying to act more like Democrats in this state is both a lack of principle and a political mistake. It eliminates some of the very foundations upon which our support rests.
A “selling point” for their party’s core followers and volunteers, she described the party platform as “an aspirational set of principles” rather than a “litmus test” for candidates.
They are extremely invested. We have to keep them,” she emphasized. The author continues, “And it is the wrong thing to do to be Democrat-light.”
More than 200 state delegates will debate whether to endorse the amendments or preserve the present platform before the convention’s full draught committee.
Dhillon feels most delegates will vote to preserve the current platform since the smaller, draught panel was made up of people who do not reflect the broader opinions in the state party. Dhillon and Moran are actively trying to sway votes to prepare for Saturday’s sessions.
According to Moran, the draught platform is also a part of a larger effort by some in the GOP to reduce the size of party platforms and give candidates more leeway to establish their own ideas. Dhillon argued that candidates did not need to stick to the program because they were already able to.
“There is absolutely no purity examination,” she emphasised.
The current party platform of the California Republican Party is 14 pages long. The newest one is only four.
In the present platform, marriage is discussed under the heading “Family.” Part of it reads, “We support the two-parent family as the best environment for raising children, and therefore believe that it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
The new draught removes the line that defines marriage as between a man and a woman and uses softer wording overall. Instead, it states, “We affirm that a loving, safe home for all children should be our society’s top priority, and we support the family unit as the best environment for raising children.”
According to the current platform, which includes a section headed “The Right to Life,” the California Republican Party is the party that protects innocent life because “we believe life begins at conception and ends at natural death.”
Furthermore, “we support laws that protect unborn children from partial birth, sex selection, taxpayer-funded abortions, and abortions performed as a form of birth control or on minor girls without the notification and consent of their parents,” it reads. To that end, “we support adoption as an alternative to abortion and call on lawmakers to reduce the bureaucratic burden placed on adoptive couples.”
The length of the new drafting platform has been cut down. It says, “We want to see the number of abortions reduced because we value protecting innocent life.” We encourage politicians to lessen the administrative load on adoptive parents as an alternative to abortion.
While many political parties have internal strife, the argument in California, according to law professor Jessica Levinson, is a microcosm for a bigger discussion within the GOP over the party’s future.
Similarly to other states, “I think Californians here are looking at voters and looking at voters who are rejecting anti-abortion proposals, and who are rejecting anti-same sex marriage proposals, and realizing that the sands are shifting from under their feet,” Levinson added. They’re saying, ‘This might not be the path to victory. We may need to change our strategy or tone.
She argued that “it is difficult to win very big elections and be staunchly pro-life right now,” particularly among younger voters, voters of colour, and women.