Story highlights

Draft GOP platform drops previous calls for amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman

Adopts strong language on trade similar to that used by Donald Trump

Cleveland CNN  — 

A first draft of the document that will become the GOP platform at this year’s Republican convention sticks to Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade, but leaves the long-time party position opposing abortion rights relatively unchanged.

And in a major shift, the platform would drop the pursuit of a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, opting instead to oppose the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and calling on the matter to be decided by the states.

The draft language shared with CNN also would slightly alter the party’s position on Israel, reinstating a reference to an “undivided” Jerusalem and removing a reference to Palestine in support of a two-state solution.

The language was shared with members of the Platform Committee by the Republican National Committee at an orientation on Sunday night as the events in Cleveland began. The document will form the basis of discussions for the panel, which will meet this week to adapt the language and vote on a final proposal, which will then go before the full convention next week.

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The most substantial changes to the 2012 platform came on trade – a key issue for Trump where he has sparred with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other reliable conservative business backers. The new language sounds remarkably like Trump, though it stays away from some of his more inflammatory positions including renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Overall, the relevant section of the draft says international trade is beneficial to the American economy, but decries “massive deficits.” It speaks of a “worldwide multilateral agreement” that promotes open market ideals.

“We need better negotiated trade agreements that put America first,” the draft reads, borrowing a line directly from Trump.

It continues with language along the lines of Trump’s campaign speeches regarding negotiations and deal-making.

“Republicans understand that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away from it,” the draft reads. “A Republican president will insist on parity in trade and will stand willing to implement countervailing duties if other countries don’t cooperate. At the same time we look to broaden our trade agreements with countries that share our values and commitments to fairness, along with transparency in our commercial and business practices.”

To be sure, the committee will have several days to hash out possible changes to the 58-page draft before sending a recommendation to the convention floor.

One idea floated last week to committee delegate was to return to the style of the 1860, when the platform was a short document under 2,000 words that laid out the overriding principles of the party.

Gay marriage

The draft also diverges from the position held on gay marriage in every platform since 2004.

Gone is seeking a constitutional amendment to declare marriage as between “one man and one woman,” and instead there is a section on the importance of a “married mom and dad.”

“Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society,” the draft reads.

But it leaves the issue up to state governments, saying it rejects the Supreme Court’s decision last year holding that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional: “We urge (the decision’s) reversal whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

The draft did add language on so-called “religious freedom” laws, which seek to protect businesses who deny services based on religious objections to gay marriage. The laws have become controversial at the state level across the country. The platform language supports the “First Amendment Defense Act” proposed in Congress.

The platform also calls for the appointing of judges in the vein of late Justice Antonin Scalia, to fight against “judicial activism” in the form of the gay marriage decision, court rulings upholding Obamacare and abortion. Republicans in Congress have refused to hold hearings or vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, saying the next president should have the chance to appoint a justice.

Trump has called for marriage to be a state issue, and declared he is a candidate that will protect LGBT Americans.


The draft does not diverge strongly, however, from the 2012 position on abortion, saying that unborn children are protected by the Constitution and decrying abortion.

Though Trump has made statements throughout the course of the campaign saying he supports exceptions to abortion in cases such as life of the mother or rape or incest, the draft platform does not include language about such exceptions.

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