WASHINGTON ― The North Dakota Republican Party voted this spring to approve its 2020 platform and included language calling LGBTQ people unhealthy, dangerous, manipulative to children and “voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex.”
But in a bizarre twist, after it started getting press attention last week, the same GOP officials who voted on the homophobic language are now condemning it and saying they don’t know who wrote it or where it came from.
The anti-LGBTQ section of the platform, referred to as Resolution 31, is as offensive as it is outdated in its claims about queer people. You won’t find it on the party’s website anymore because the party pulled it down. But a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead nabbed a copy of the platform before it disappeared.
Resolution 31 is titled “In Opposition to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bills,” which it refers to as “SOGI bills.” It includes statements such as this:
“SOGI bills grant protection to voyeurs who wish to prey on members of the opposite sex.”
“SOGI laws empower those practicing LGBT behaviors to assume positions of mentorships of minors often over objections of parents influencing their emotions and thereby recruiting for their lifestyles.”
“SOGI bills seek to pacify those made uncomfortable as a result of their gender dysphoria by compromising the potential comfort and safety of an untold number of innocent individuals.”
“Proponents of SOGI bills routinely advance the false narrative that they ‘just want the same rights and protections [you] already have.’ Every right and protection enshrined in statute applies to every North Dakotan equally. There is no legal remedy against suffering discrimination as a result of the heterosexuality of any given subject.”
“Many LGBT practices are unhealthy and dangerous, sometimes endangering or shortening life and sometimes infecting society at large.”
The last line reads, “Therefore, be it resolved: The Republican Party of North Dakota opposes the passage of legislation which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to our Century code as protected classes.”
More than 700 state GOP delegates voted on this language in April, with the full platform approved 621-139 by a mail-in vote because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was circulated among all levels of Republican leadership in North Dakota, including the governor, the GOP party chair, state legislators and the North Dakota congressional delegation. And yet, nobody raised concerns with it until last week, when it started getting press attention. Now it’s all apologies and an apparent mystery where this language came from.
North Dakota Republican Party Chair Rick Berg said Monday that he was sorry about Resolution 31 and directed the party’s executive committee to vote to disavow it. But he didn’t say who put it in the platform in the first place.
The party suggested that delegates who voted for the platform weren’t actually voting for its anti-LGBTQ section as they voted for the entire platform, not individual resolutions.
“As leaders of the State Party, we would like to offer a sincere apology for the inclusion of these unacceptable, hurtful sentiments as part of our official business,” Berg said in a statement.
The party added in a statement that participants were asked to vote on more than 50 resolutions but that delegates did not consider each resolution individually for a vote.
Asked if Berg reviewed his party’s platform before voting on it in April and why the platform wasn’t on the party’s website anymore, North Dakota Republican Party executive director Corby Kemmer told HuffPost the group had no further comment beyond the official statement.
Republican Gov. Doug Burgum recently criticized the platform’s anti-LGBTQ language, calling it “hurtful and divisive.” And the state’s only congressional representative, Kelly Armstrong, and its GOP senators, John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, said they were disappointed by the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, The Forum reported. They all voted on the platform in April.
A Burgum spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on whether the governor or his staff read the platform before voting on it and how Resolution 31 ended up in it.
State Rep. Josh Boschee, who is the House Democratic leader and the only openly LGBTQ member of the North Dakota legislature, said the current situation of GOP officials scrambling to rebuke homophobic language that they just voted to approve is as bonkers as it sounds.
“It’s even more insane than it usually is here,” Boschee told HuffPost. “No one seems to know where it came from. I grew up Catholic, so we’d call it lying.”
He mocked Republicans for being “afraid of their own shadow” on Twitter.
Now it’s getting ridiculous! None of these cowards will fess up to being the responsible person(s) or knowing who amended and with a majority vote of a 50-person committee approved updated, harmful and bigoted language in 2018. @NDGOP is clearly afraid of their own shadow! https://t.co/7b5OBCBLhD
— Joshua Boschee (@JoshBoschee) July 29, 2020
He said it’s not hard to see who helped put that language together: The GOP’s resolutions committee. Each of the state’s 47 legislative districts has a representative in that committee, and they were all involved in discussions on Resolution 31, he said.
Republican state Rep. Mike Lefor, the chair of the resolutions committee, did not respond to a request for comment about the origins of the resolution.
Boschee gave credit to the governor for being a “good partner” on LGBTQ issues and said he’s been receptive to meeting with community LGBTQ groups. But Boschee said the governor needs to do a lot more work within his party and that he’s been telling some of his GOP colleagues in the state House who are friends that they’re going to be tied to their party’s hateful anti-LGBTQ platform until someone confesses to writing it.
″It’s easy to say I want nothing to do with this,” Boschee said. “It’s time to do the hard work of standing up for LGBTQ families. You need to spend time listening to LGBTQ North Dakotans about what their reality is and how this clearly does not help them and their image of North Dakota.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.