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As Richard Grenell addresses RNC, GOP platform still opposes gay marriage

The gay former ambassador and Cabinet official is scheduled to address the Republican National Convention even as the party reiterated its 2016 opposition to same-sex unions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives diplomatic corps
Richard Grenell, in Meseberg, Germany on July 6, 2018.Axel Schmidt / Reuters file

Former U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is scheduled to speak to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, becoming only the third openly gay man to address the Grand Old Party’s quadrennial event.

Grenell, who served as acting director of national intelligence for several months earlier this year and thus became the first openly gay Cabinet official, recently appeared in a video produced by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay conservative group, in which he called Trump “the most pro-gay president” in history.

But while Trump is the first Republican president to verbalize his support for same-sex marriage (before he was elected in 2016, he told Bill O’Reilly he opposed it), the party he helms still officially opposes gay unions — five years after they became legal across the United States.

In a resolution passed Saturday, the Republican National Committee decided not to adopt a new platform this year (something the GOP has done every presidential year since 1856, according to The New York Times). Instead, the party renewed its 2016 platform and reasserted its “strong support” for Trump. The repurposed platform includes at least five references to marriage as exclusively between “one man and one woman.”

“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 platform, which is attached to Saturday’s resolution, states.

The platform also supports “the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children,” a position that would likely prohibit bans on so-called conversion therapy that many states have adopted over the past several years.

Donald Trump holds up a rainbow flag with "LGBT's for TRUMP" written on it at a campaign rally in Greeley, Colo., on Oct. 30, 2016.
Donald Trump holds up a rainbow flag with "LGBT's for TRUMP" written on it at a campaign rally in Greeley, Colo., on Oct. 30, 2016.Carlo Allegri / Reuters file

The Republican National Committee declined to comment on the record, but one official told NBC News that the 2016 platform was readopted because the platform committee couldn’t meet due to North Carolina’s COVID-19 restrictions. The official said the 2016 platform’s readoption this year “does not mean we are readopting the 2016 platform and making it the 2020 platform.”

But the official also shared language of the approved GOP procedures for the 2020 convention that say the 2016 platform is “continuing to serve as the official platform of the Republican Party until the 2024 Republican National Convention adopts a new platform” and that any motion to amend or adopt a new platform “will be ruled out of order.”

In response to an NBC News request for comment on the Republican National Committee’s continued opposition to same-sex marriage, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, “As the first U.S. president in our history to favor same-sex marriage when he was sworn in, President Trump has advocated for the equal treatment of all and opposed discrimination of any kind against the LGBT community.”

Deere declined to answer a question about whether the president supports the GOP’s current national platform.

Neither Grenell nor the Log Cabin Republicans responded to requests for comment regarding the Republican National Committee’s continued opposition to same-sex marriage.

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