The Texas Republican Party unveiled its official position on LGBTQ issues over the weekend, defining homosexuality as an "abnormal lifestyle choice" and also opposing "all efforts to validate transgender identity."
Thousands of Republican activists met at the party’s biennial convention in Houston on Saturday to agree to the party's platform on a range of issues, including the rejection of the 2020 election results and a call to repeal of the 1965 Voting Right Act, which was enacted to prevent discrimination against Black voters.
In a section titled "Homosexuality and gender issues," the party suggested that LGBTQ people should not be legally protected from discrimination and that being gay or trans is a choice.
"Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice," the 40-page resolution reads. "We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin, and we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values."
In addition, Texas Republicans called for the ban of gender-affirming care — including the distribution of puberty blockers or hormone-suppressing therapies, and the performance of gender-affirming surgeries — for anyone under the age of 21.
The party's new official stance on LGBTQ issues was unveiled during Pride Month, and as advocates fight against a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in states across the country this year — more than 340, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group.
Texas lawmakers have not enacted anti-LGBTQ legislation into law this year but have pushed headline-generating anti-LGBTQ policies in other ways.
In February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s child welfare agency to investigate child abuse claims filed against parents who might be providing their trans children with gender-affirming medical care. And earlier this month, a Texas lawmaker announced that he would introduce novel legislation to ban minors from attending drag shows in the state.
Ricardo Martinez, the CEO of Equality Texas, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, called the platform "extreme, but not necessarily new."
"I'm glad that they're being really explicit in their words because these words now match their actions," Martinez said. "This is not surprising, but it certainly is painful for LGBTQ people who live here in Texas."
The Texas Republican Party blocked the Log Cabin Republicans, a longstanding group of gay conservatives — which also supports many of the party’s anti-LGBTQ policies — from having a booth at Saturday's convention. The group rebuked the party's decision to bar it from participating, calling on the state's GOP to "expand the tent."
"President Trump, who historically expanded the GOP’s coalition, made clear that LGBT conservatives are welcome in the America First movement and the Republican Party," the organization said in a statement last week. "It’s shameful that the Texas GOP leadership is choosing to not follow his lead."
The party's new official stance on sexual orientation and gender identity also coincides with a recent nationwide surge in charged rhetoric from media pundits and politicians about LGBTQ issues.
In recent months, conservative lawmakers, television pundits and other public figures have accused opponents of a newly enacted Florida education legislation — which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law — of trying to “groom” or “indoctrinate” children. The word “grooming” has long been associated with mischaracterizing LGBTQ people, particularly gay men and transgender women, as child sex abusers.
Advocates have been urging public officials against using the charged rhetoric, warning that it could cause violence directed at LGBTQ Americans.
At least three LGBTQ events were targeted by white nationalist groups this month, with police arresting 31 people at an annual Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on charges of suspicion of conspiracy to riot. Those arrested came to the event with gas masks and shields.
The Texas Republican Party's new platform also counters President Joe Biden's recent efforts to expand LGBTQ rights through the executive branch.
Last week, the president signed an executive order that will direct federal health and education agencies to expand access to gender-affirming care and advance LGBTQ-inclusive learning environments at American schools. It will also curb federal funding for the debunked practice of “conversion therapy,” which nearly every leading U.S. medical association has condemned, and ask the Federal Trade Commission to consider whether the practice constitutes an unfair or deceptive act.
The Texas GOP's stance on same-sex marriage aligns with the national party. The most recent Republican National Committee platform — which was enacted in 2016 and renewed in 2020 — includes at least five references to marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.