GOP platform committee retains tough language on transgender access to school bathrooms

Liz Goodwin
Senior National Affairs Reporter

CLEVELAND — Republican delegates adopted tough language opposing the Obama administration’s policy on transgender schoolkids in a platform subcommittee hearing Monday morning.

Donald Trump has kept his distance from the transgender bathroom issue, saying in the spring that Caitlyn Jenner is welcome to use whichever bathroom she wants at his properties. The New York Times reported that Trump recently spoke with Jenner.

But Trump has also reportedly signaled that he’ll accept the GOP party platform, which about a hundred delegates are amending Monday and Tuesday in several conference rooms in Cleveland ahead of next week’s full convention.

Annie Dickerson, a delegate from New York and an adviser to GOP billionaire donor Paul Singer, urged her colleagues to strike language that condemns the Obama administration for telling schools to allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their gender identity. (Singer has funded pro-gay marriage efforts around the country.) The RNC draft platform says the guidance is “illegal and dangerous” and “alien to America’s history and traditions.”

Dickerson urged her colleagues not to get distracted by the issue, which she said would alienate LGBT Republicans and pull the convention into a contentious issue.

“Bathrooms takes us down a rabbit hole,” Dickerson said.

Connie Hunter, a delegate from Tennessee, said she personally disagreed with the Obama administration’s policy, but thought it was “overkill” to include it in the platform. “I don’t think this is the place to open up that can of worms,” she said.

Dickerson added that the language “takes us to a place where our convention is about bathrooms.”

But the push failed. Tony Perkins, a delegate from Louisiana and the president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, said the party should include the position to support the 11 states that are suing the Obama administration over the policy.

West Virginia delegate Melody Potter said, “I believe it’s time for Republicans to take a stand on it. It’s a safety issue.”

Philip Wilson, a delegate from Washington, concurred. “The rabbit hole has been forced on us,” argued Wilson. “I don’t think it’s an issue that any of us thinks, ‘This is a great thing; let’s put it int he platform.’”

The Subcommittee on Healthcare, Education and Crime also voted to keep the draft platform’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Dickerson attempted to get the subcommittee to strip the draft platform of a section that said every child “deserves a married mom or dad,” arguing that a loving and stable home is what mattered. Her amendment failed. The draft also calls for the Supreme Court to reverse its decision last year finding a right to same-sex marriage, and the draft calls for a constitutional amendment to let states decide whether or not to allow same-sex couples to marry.