Republican Party platform committee won’t include civil unions for gay couples

A committee drafting the Republican Party's platform decided not to add support for civil unions for gay couples to its document, according to the leader of a Republican gay rights group.

The committee voted down the civil unions amendment proposed by a Rhode Island delegate after "a good back-and-forth debate," according to Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper, though amendments may still be proposed and debated. Civil unions would provide more legal protections, such as hospital visitation rights, to same-sex couples.

Cooper says that the committee, which is meeting Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., to draft the party's platform, has already voted to add new language to the platform that affirms the "dignity and respect" of all Americans, which implicitly includes gay Americans. But the document also calls for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman, which would ban gay marriage even in states that currently allow it. For the first time, the Democratic Party is endorsing same-sex marriage in its platform, which has put some pressure on the Republican Party to soften its tone on gay rights.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the platform language specifically affirmed the dignity and respect of gay Americans. In fact, the language refers to "all Americans."