MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gay marriage and abortion, divisive issues within the Republican party, have flared again at the RNC's meeting here, with Nevada's delegation firing back at criticism of its April decision to remove anti-abortion and anti-gay language from its state platform.
Angered by an email from Oklahoma Republican National Committee member Carolyn McLarty that questioned its loyalty to the national party, the Nevada delegation sent a stinging rebuke to the 168-member national committee.
"The removal of two social issues from our platform does not mean that 'we' as individual people are 'for' gay marriage or 'for' abortion," the email said. "The removal of these planks recognizes the inappropriateness of the existence of these planks in our platform in the first place."
"We disagree with Committeewoman McLarty where she said 'They are symptoms of the infiltration of the Republican Party by those who really want to destroy it,' " it said.
The delegation also took issue with Mrs. McLarty, an evangelical Protestant and staunch opponent of abortion, calling its action an "attack on God and family."
"We are insulted by this accusation. Most of our delegates have deep spiritual beliefs," the Nevada email said.
Grass-roots Republicans themselves are divided over whether abortion should be banned nationally by a constitutional amendment or whether it's a matter of states' discretion.
Some respected veteran RNC members were not pleased with the Nevada action on abortion – in part because there is widespread agreement among RNC members that the Democratic party is the party sympathetic to abortion and the GOP has differentiated itself as the "pro-life" party – and because many RNC members are dedicated opponents of what they regard as "murder of the unborn."
"The Nevada RNC member reported to her fellow RNC western region committee members the platform was 'shortened "to benefit voters and candidates,'" Arizona RNC member Bruce Ash told The Washington Times.
"I raise the question of whether the Nevada GOP was exercising wise judgment by doing so as well as why these were the best to select," Mr. Ash said.
But many Republicans agree the GOP must preserve its coalition of voters with dispiarate views.
"The National Committee should stay out of disputes between the state parties," former RNC General Counsel David Norcross said.
"That conclusion has nothing to do with the merits nor should it," Mr. Norcross added. "The Nevada delegation said actions were far from 'disgraceful' or 'insidious,' and we find her judgment of our delegation wholly inappropriate."
"The position of the Nevada Republican Party does not impact Oklahoma and neither the Committeewoman nor the RNC have any governance over the will of the Nevada delegation when it comes to the content of the Nevada state platform."
The response to Mrs. McLarty noted that the state once known as the gambling capital of the word has Republicans within its borders who are as diverse as America itself.
"Nevada is home to many diverse people, including a very large LGBT population. The GOP is by definition a party of inclusion not exclusion. If we as a political party continue to exclude Americans that agree with our core principles of freedom and limited government, how can we expect to attract new candidates or continue to get quality Republican candidates elected?
The Nevada response argued that "Excluding an entire group of American citizens based solely on their sexual preference toward the same gender is not only divisive but in the 21st century it is unacceptable. "
The Nevada state GOP added: "Our goal as Republicans is to have less Government intrusion in our lives, and having our platform reflect that is commendable. Nevada is leading a charge to focus our party on core principles which are shared by a majority of Americans, including the new generation of voters that is looking to us for leadership on the issue of limited government and personal freedom. We as Republicans can choose to become more relevant to this generation of new voters or we can continue down a path of exclusion and continue to lose elections as a result."
"Republican platform to intrude on the freedoms of any American citizen. Any resources that we spend continuing to push divisive issues will reduce the resources we need for the real fight of electing Republicans that will advocate for our core principles," the Nevada GOP officials concluded in their email to the national party's officials.
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