Friday, June 25, 2010

The Texas GOP Non-Story

Earlier this week, news came out about some anti-gay planks in the Texas GOP platform. I know that it was all over Facebook and several gay news publications. It was another sign of how bad things are getting in the GOP.

There was just one problem: it wasn't a new story.

As the Dallas Voice writes, these planks have been in the Texas GOP Platform for years and groups like Log Cabin Republicans have worked to get rid of them.

This story has been all over the blogosphere this weekend, after the Texas GOP released its 2010 platform, which was finalized during its state convention two weeks ago in Dallas. Among other things, the platform calls for again making sodomy a crime and for making it a felony to issue a same-sex marriage license. The anti-gay language in the platform has prompted headlines on some blogs comparing Texas to the African nation of Uganda, which sought to impose the death penalty for homosexuality.
But the story is hardly new. This anti-gay language has been in the Texas Republican Party platform for years, and it was unchanged during this year’s convention. We’ve reported extensively on Log Cabin Republicans’ efforts to get the anti-gay language removed, and two years ago, The Dallas Morning News even picked up the story.

In another post, John Wright of the Dallas Voice includes a statement from Rob Schlein, President of the Dallas Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans:

We just noticed that Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, has posted a response to the story about the GOP platform on his Facebook page. Schlein’s group has fought, to no avail, to have the anti-gay language removed from the platform in recent years. Here’s what he said:
“This is an article that’s gaining a lot of traction on the internet. I have had a lot of requests asking about it. Although much is not really ‘new’ because it existed in prior platforms, it is being used again as a tool to damage Republican politicians. To my R friends: we need to reform this next time as Democrat activists are using it against us! To my D friends, these planks were put in place by a tiny minority of grassroots activists (among the religious right) and does NOT represent the overall views of the rank and file politician or voter who identifies themselves as Republican. Many politicians claim either to not having read the platform, or will bluntly say they disagree with these planks.”

So, why did something that had been part of the platform for years become a story all over again? Wright blames the herd-like mentality of the media and the blogosphere, but I think there is something else going on: laziness.

This is what we expect from Republicans. We expect Republicans to be hostile to gays, so we just assume that some story about planks in the Texas GOP platform just have to be page one news, even when it happened long ago.

But I think in our laziness, we miss out on the other stories that are going on: we miss out on groups like Log Cabin Republicans that are working to change the platform and have been doing that for years. We miss the Republican Liberty Caucus issuing a statement calling on the state GOP to deal with the anti-gay planks. Heck we miss out on the fact that there are pro-gay Republicans.

Instead, we focus on an old story because, Republicans are all anti-gay bigots.

I'm not saying that we minimize the anti-gay bigotry that does occur in the GOP. But bloggers and reporters alike need to be more intellectually curious and understand that the Republican party is far more complex than they tend to assume.

That, and they need to do some damn fact-checking.

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