Let’s be blunt: The North Dakota Republican Party has endorsed a repugnant, retrograde platform that fosters hate based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identification.
No amount of weasel wording can excuse the ugliness of platforum provisions party delegates approved that vilify those who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transexual, the LBGT community.
The platform, an expression of the party’s values and morals, validates prejudice and bigotry by seeking to delegitimize laws banning sexual orientation and gender identity.
Such measures, the platform holds, “grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex.”
It propagates the canard that those who are gay, bisexual or transgender act on “compulsions” that are “primarily developmental and not genetic as in color and gender.” That’s a blatantly bogus claim; the weight of research, in fact, shows the exact opposite.
The NDGOP platform also claims that laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity “empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objection of parents, influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles.”
The platform portrays many LGBT practices as “unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large.”
Where did they get this tripe? Today’s Republican Party is infected by a mindset that seeks to inflame and divide, to demonize the “other” as it defines itself in a way that includes only segments of society.
The starkly intolerant platform is a shocking expression of values in 2020, coming soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employment discrimination on the basis of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is unconstitutional.
It’s especially unfortunate coming at a time when we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a time that calls for recognizing that we face a common threat, a time when we must come together to take the steps to prevent the virus from spreading.
And the virus has ruthlessly achieved something humans seem incapable of: it does not discriminate in choosing its victims.
In trying to claim the high moral ground, the delegates who approved the NDGOP platform have sunk to a shockingly low level.
It’s not, as the bumper sticker would have us ask, what Jesus would do. As the Bible instructs in the Greatest Commandment and its corollary: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
The North Dakota Republican Platform is not only shockingly intolerant, it’s not smart politics. Let’s do a little math. North Dakota has 578,483 adults, according to census figures. A vast majority — 76%, according to Pew — identify as Republican or leaning Republican.
And, according to estimates from Gallup, 4.5% of Americans self-identify as LGBT. That suggests that 19,784 North Dakota adults who are Republican or lean Republican also happen to be LGBT.
Look around you. Those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transexual are our family members, our friends, our neighbors and our co-workers.
If allowed to stand, this platform will send a message that North Dakota is a bigoted, intolerant state. It will repel young people and businesses. And it will hurt a lot of good people.
The NDGOP’s executive director has said the party regrets any offense the platform wording might have caused, and Gov. Doug Burgum has denounced it, saying, “There’s no place for the hurtful and divisive rhetoric in the NDGOP resolutions."
All NDGOP leaders must join in denouncing the platform language, and the party should strike the provisions from the platform. We are better than this.