The Texas Republican Party moved one step closer endorsing the widely discredited practice of using therapy to "cure" LGBT people on Thursday. The language, which The Wire flagged yesterday when it appeared on a first draft of the state party's 2014 platform, would make it official state party policy to support "therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle."
As the Associated Press notes, 10,000 delegates in the state will take a final floor vote on the proposed 2014 platform on Saturday before the end of the Texas GOP's conference in Fort Worth. If the ex-gay therapy language makes it through to the final platform, Texas's Republican Party will endorse a practice that's been banned for minors in two states, New Jersey and California, due to concerns that the conversion therapy harms children. That's a concern backed up by the medical community: the American Psychological Association notes that partitioners of ex-gay therapy, sometimes called "reparative therapy," present a "serious potential to harm young people because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure." No mainstream medical or mental health organization designates an LGBT identity as a mental health issue.
The anti-gay language in the new platform proposal is actually meant to be a softer, kinder version of the party's longstanding assertion that the "practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of our society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit." That language was removed from the 2014 draft, although as KVUE notes, it could be added back in at any time before the final Saturday vote.
Meanwhile in the rest of America, a new Washington Post poll finds that half of Americans believe same-sex marriage is a constitutionally-protected right. Fifty percent agreed that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment grants marriage rights to same-sex couples, an argument that should be familiar to anyone following virtually every court decision on marriage rights since the Supreme Court's Windsor decision almost a year ago. A slightly higher percentage of Americans — 56 percent — back same-sex marriage in general. Forty-three percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage is not constitutionally protected, and 38 percent oppose it outright, according to the new poll.
Even in the often more conservative states that currently ban same-sex marriage (like Texas), the Post notes, a full 50 percent of respondents overall support it, and 45 percent believe it is a constitutional right (those numbers are higher in states with marriage equality). The poll identified two nestled demographic groups demonstrating decisive opposition to same-sex marriage, despite an overall trend to support it across most other groups: Republicans over the age of 50. That latter part is a number that perhaps the Texas Republican Party should be paying more attention to: even though just 37 percent of all Republicans support legal same-sex marriages, Republicans under the age of 50 tend to be more supportive.