Calif. Republicans Vote to Keep Pro-Life, Pro-Marriage Platform
Golden State Republicans are rejecting calls from moderates to drop pro-life and pro-family platform positions. On Saturday, members of California’s GOP convention voted against a proposal from self-described “moderate” Republicans to drop opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage from the party’s platform, additionally reducing the platform from 14 pages to roughly four.
The Party’s pro-life stance would have been weakened by the removal of the statement that life begins at conception and removal of references to late-term and elective abortions. The platform proposal was submitted earlier this year, with support from the pro-LGBT organization Log Cabin Republicans, and was tacitly approved by party leadership in the state, with many arguing a less conservative approach would broaden the party’s appeal to leftist voters. A closed-door vote on Saturday resulted in an overwhelming rejection of the new platform proposal, without even debate on proposed amendments.
Speaking to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins Monday night on “Washington Watch,” Real Impact Executive Director Gina Gleason, who played a key role in mobilizing voters to reject the platform proposal, said, “We expected to lose because the party leadership and all the delegates were against us. They don’t believe in upholding and defending life and … God’s design for marriage. But when we got wind of what they were doing, we got organized.” She added, “When Christians know what is taking place in their government or in their local community, they step up and they’re starting to be really involved and make some impactful changes.”
Republican National Committee (RNC) member for California Harmeet Dhillon also argued against the platform policy changes, telling Politico, “We need to focus on drawing distinctions with the Left … not stoke divisions within our base.” In comments to the Washington Free Beacon, Los Angeles Hispanic Republican Club official David Hernandez added, “To remove life at conception [from the platform] would not only disenfranchise conservatives, it would disenfranchise conservative Democrats who are now looking at the leftist takeover of their party — and if we are following behind, then they’re not going to be attracted to us.”
This move comes as some in the Republican Party even nationwide have pushed for less focus on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other “culture war” issues in an effort to appeal to a broader, more moderate voter base. In fact, former president Donald Trump even urged Republicans last month not to campaign on abortion, saying that makes it “very hard to win elections.” He added, “This issue cost us dearly in the  midterms — and unnecessarily.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel had said the opposite earlier this year, insisting, “Let’s talk about abortion, which has become a huge issue coming after the Dobbs decision. When you don’t respond, the lies become the truth.” She continued to note that a lot of Republicans in 2022 shied away from the abortion issue. “Then what happened?” she asked. “Democrats spent $360 million running ads filled with lies about abortion, and most Republicans had no response.”
The 2024 election is shaping up to be no different. Even ahead of the primaries, the Biden reelection campaign has spent at least $25 million on abortion advertisements. Another Biden campaign ad blitz features images of the grinning president with red laser eyes (called “Dark Brandon,” in reference to Biden’s less-than-complimentary nickname-gone-viral) quipping, “Get real, Jack. I’m bringing Roe back.”
Other conservatives, like Trump’s former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, have also called on Republicans not to shy away from campaigning on pro-life issues. McEnany specifically urged Republicans to highlight the Democratic Party’s “extremism” on abortion, including lobbying for abortion up to birth. She said, “I’d love to see a presidential candidate look at Joe Biden and say, ‘President Biden, when does [an unborn] baby feel pain?’ I don’t think he could answer that question. Why isn’t every Democrat in America being asked that question?”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) advocated a similar approach last week during the second Republican presidential primary debate. The governor said, “I think we should hold Democrats accountable for their extremism, supporting abortion all the way up until the moment of birth. That is infanticide, and that is wrong.” A moderator then asked how he intended to win the votes of “independent, pro-choice voters” in battleground states. “The same way we did in Florida,” DeSantis fired back. “We won the greatest Republican victory in a governor’s race in the history of the state, over 1.5 million votes. We were winning in places like Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach, that nobody thought was possible, because we were leading with courage and conviction.”
Yet many self-professed Republicans still advocate ditching pro-life rhetoric altogether and focusing on less controversial issues. For instance, Fox News host Martha McCallum quipped during the first round of Republican presidential primary debates that abortion “has been a losing issue for Republicans since the Dobbs decision,” despite overwhelming electoral evidence to the contrary.
This comes as California Democrats continue to double down on abortion. The day after the Republican convention, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) appointed a pro-abortion radical to fill a U.S. Senate left vacant by the late Dianne Feinstein’s death, and late last month, Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) sued pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the state for offering abortion pill reversal services.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.