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Some social conservatives threaten to abandon GOP

Some social conservatives are threatening to decamp from the Republican Party if officials do not recommit to their issues.

Reince Preibus
Reince Preibus

In a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the leaders of 13 social conservative groups demand a reaffirmation of the 2012 party platform, which calls for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

"It’s one thing to say the Party is open to all. It’s quite another to suggest that the Party should retreat in midstream from their own platform," the authors write. "In so doing, the GOP further confuses voters about their own identity."

The letter, first reported on by NBC News, is in response to the RNC autopsy released last month, which described a generational split on "issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays."

The social conservatives argue that the party can increase its support with minority voters by championing social issues and will only lose support from its base by running from them.

"Republicans would do well to persuade young voters why marriage between a man and a woman is so important rather than abandon thousands of years of wisdom to please them," they write. "We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support."

The group argues that existing gay GOP groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud shows that there is no need to change party orthodoxy to create a bigger tent. "We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally," they write.

They also suggest that better communication with social conservatives, "the experts on how to articulate those positions," would have avoided some of the gaffes made by Republican candidates last year.

A resolution reaffirming the 2012 platform passed out of the RNC's Resolution Committee Wednesday and will get a vote from the full RNC on Friday, RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

"Chairman Priebus agrees we must be holding true to our conservative principles as we work to grow our party and has been traveling the country with that message," she added.

The letter writers include Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, James Dobson of Family Talk Action and Marjorie Dannenfelser of Susan B. Anthony List.

A letter was also sent to Priebus from a larger group, including some of the same social conservatives, opposing establishment-friendly rules changes made last year by supporters of Mitt Romney. Most attempts to repeal those measures in the Rules Committee were squashed Wednesday night, but grassroots activists did succeed in killing a rule that bound delegates to a state's primary or caucus winner.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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