Change of heart or covert strategy?

In a surprise move, the Nevada Republican party voted to strip language from its party platform that opposed same-sex marriage and abortion. This is quite a stunning development.

Amid raucous debate, Nevada Republican Party conventioneers on Saturday stripped opposition to gay marriage and abortion from the party platform and endorsed Gov. Brian Sandoval for governor in the June 10 primary despite misgivings by conservatives, his criticism of the process and his absence from the meeting.

State party Chairman Michael McDonald said it was a successful convention at the end of the day.

“I think it was about inclusion, not exclusion,” McDonald said, referring to the platform. “This is where the party is going.”

Republicans who sat on the platform committee said they decided not to deal with social issues this year because the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts have weighed in and it doesn’t make sense for the party of “personal freedom” to have the government or the political party get involved in people’s personal lives.

“The issue was how can we back out of people’s personal lives,” said Dave Hockaday of Lyon County, who sat on the platform committee. “We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”

Previously, the state party platform defined marriage as “between a man and a woman,” as does the Nevada Constitution. The past document also described the party as “pro-life,” or against abortion, a stance most Republicans still agree with.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the Roe vs Wade case, legalized abortion in the early stages of pregnancy.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals might rule this year that Nevada’s marriage law is unconstitutional. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto recently said she could not defend the state law because of a 9th Circuit ruling in a separate case that said excluding gays from jury duty is unconstitutional discrimination. Sandoval agreed with her assessment despite his personal belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he said.

It was not clear from the article whether this change was driven primarily by people who opposed the older policies or whether they still supported them but decided that it was better to be quiet about it, since the tide of public opinion is turning against them and may hurt their electoral chances.

Whatever the reason, this move is quite telling.


  1. mudskipper says

    I could be wrong about this, but it seems to me that conservatism in the Western states is more influenced by libertarianism and less by religion than it is in the rest of the country. So it isn’t surprising to me that Nevada would take this stance. Alabama, on the other hand, is another story…

  2. AsqJames says

    Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto recently said she could not defend the state law [banning SSM] because of a 9th Circuit ruling in a separate case that said excluding gays from jury duty is unconstitutional discrimination.


    Are you telling me someone stood up in court and argued it was OK to exclude gay people from juries? And this is just thrown in there almost as an aside? This is 2014 for god’s sake. Who, at this point and with all the progress we’ve made on gay rights, thinks the person you love makes you unfit to serve on a jury?

    What’s the thought process there? “Well let’s see…voting? OK, I guess we can let ’em vote as long as we can keep screwing the blacks…Serving in the military? Well, I don’t like it, but hell how many nancy boys want to do all that manly stuff anyway?…Elected office? Murrikans have enough sense not to vote too many of ’em in, so I’ll let that one slide…Sitting on a jury? Now that’s really crossing a line! Nope. No way I’m standing for that nonsense, everyone knows gays have no concept of justice or the law.”

  3. moarscienceplz says

    No problem. I was curious about it myself, so I am glad I was able to find something.

  4. AsqJames says


    I have to admit, your link wasn’t quite as helpful as I was hoping, perhaps an href element in the tag next time?

  5. Suido says

    Of the two issues, I’m more surprised by removing language about abortion. Same sex marriage is coasting towards victory through the courts, and the only pragmatic option is to take it off the table.

    Abortion, however, is very much still an issue, as can be seen by the sheer number of state laws being pushed through to restrict access. Removing all language about opposing abortion from the state party platform is a huge step away from the mainstream republican party platform.

  6. doublereed says

    Yea, I agree with #9. They’re really just a bit ahead of the curve on gay marriage (not to mention that Nevada would probably love the extra boost to their Las Vegas marriage industry). On abortion, the pro-life crowd has, if anything, been winning on the issue, successfully making abortion an option only accessible to few women. I’m very surprised on that switch. As far as Libertarians, I see many pro-life libertarians, so I don’t think that explains it either.


  7. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Could be they are really trying to set themselves apart from the teabaggers. The NV repub platform appears at first blush to be much closer to what the teabaggers always claimed they were for (i.e. still stupid economic policies, but leaving out the social stuff).

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