ad info
     CNN and TIME Top Stories
graphic graphic

GOP gays again frustrated by party platform

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- There are 30,000 Republicans at the convention here, and Carl Schmid, an alternate delegate from Washington, is one of them: One Republican, with one voice, and one issue that matters especially to him.

"I am gay, I am a gay Republican," said Schmid. "But I believe in the principal tenets of this party -- less government, less taxes, a strong military."

Carl Schmid, a gay Republican and alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from Washington, wants to be treated with respect and dignity by his fellow Republicans.  

Those tenets are written out in the party platform, which was approved by delegates on the first day of the convention Monday. It was a platform Schmid tried hard -- and failed -- to influence and change this year.

"I want to be treated with respect and dignity by my fellow Republicans," said Schmid, "and I'd like that respect and dignity reflected in my party's platform."

Schmid and other gay Republicans did not feel well-treated by the 1996 Republican platform. The civil rights plank of that document supported the legal elimination of preferences based on race, gender or ethnicity, but then it stated: "We reject the distortion of those laws that cover sexual preference."

"Basically, it said, 'we support non-discrimination, and equality for all' -- except for gay people," said Schmid.

So several months ago, Schmid and other gay Republicans began an organized effort to make the new platform more inclusive.

CNN's Beth Nissen reports on a gay Republican's efforts to rework a party plank

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

They met with members of the Republican National Committee and with Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, chair of the Republican 2000 platform committee, and suggested that the sentence they saw as anti-gay be changed, or dropped.

That sentence was deleted in the first draft of the new platform. Thompson was widely quoted as referring to such platform language as "vitriolic rhetoric that has plagued us in the past."

"Governor Thompson, he made it a point to strike this anti-gay language from the draft platform, and he obviously did that with the full knowledge of the Bush campaign," said Schmid.

Thompson presented the draft to the full platform committee last week -- and Schmid's hopes quickly died. On the issue of gay rights, the full platform committee put back what the draft document had taken out, changing the phrasing to read: "We do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law."

What happened?

"The extreme right wing won, once again," said Schmid. "That is only one part of the party, but they control the party."

Two party members from each state are sent to the full platform committee. Schmid said it was clear that this year, party members concerned about the platform's abortion plank organized to send as many of their number as possible to the committee.

"Looking around the room, I saw the leaders of the pro-life movement on the platform committee," said Schmid. "The leaders of the pro-life groups are very conservative -- and they are very conservative on gay issues, too."

"The leaders of the pro-life groups are very conservative -- and they are very conservative on gay issues, too," says Carl Schmid, a gay Republican and alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from Washington.  

The pro-life bloc voted against recognition of legal protection for gays, against legal recognition of same-sex marriages, and against gays serving in the military -- always citing the incompatibility of these platform points with "family values."

That stung Schmid, a seasoned political activist who works as a Washington lobbyist for the oil and gas industry. "I come from a family," he said. "I have parents. I have sisters and nieces and nephews. I have 'family values.'"

More significant to Schmid is that the final 2000 platform doesn't reflect all of George W. Bush's values. "The platform language contradicts Governor Bush's own policy," he said.

On the subject of gays in the military, for example, the 2000 platform repeats the 1996 statement that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service."

"Gov. Bush believes and supports the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, which means gay people can be in the military, they just can't be open about their sexuality," said Schmid. "It's clear that Governor Bush is disappointed with the way some of the platform votes went."

So is Schmid. And he is concerned by any platform language that could be read as intolerant or unsympathetic in a year when the party is trying to project an image of itself as welcoming and compassionate.

"This is something the Democrats will point to," said Schmid. "They will try to hold it against Governor Bush, to say 'no, he is not a new Republican.'"

Schmid is certain his candidate is "a Republican with a new vision." He wears a lapel button printed with a statement George W. Bush made in April of this year: "We are all God's children."

"Bush gets it," said Schmid. "He's open to gays and lesbians, and his vision is the most important thing. We are not electing the platform to be our next president. George W. Bush is going to be the one making the decisions, and implementing what he believes."

© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.