The following comes from an August 21 story on the website.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Republican platform committee resoundingly rejected an amendment Tuesday that would have endorsed civil unions for gay couples.

The GOP will maintain its official support for a constitutional amendment that would “protect traditional marriage” by defining it as between a man and a woman.

The Democratic National Committee platform has embraced gay marriage, urged on by President Barack Obama’s decision to endorse it earlier in the year.

But here at the Marriott hotel, where Mitt Romney will stay when he accepts his party’s nomination next week, a series of similar amendments were soundly rejected during subcommittee meetings on Monday. Supporters of marriage equality wanted an up-or-down vote before the full body of just over 100 members.

Barbara Ann Fenton, Rhode Island’s representative to the quadrennial session that decides official Republican Party principles, called for a platform plank that would recognize civil union partnerships for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

“As a Roman Catholic, there’s nobody in this room who believes [more than I do] that the definition of marriage is between one man and one woman,” she said. “But those are my religious beliefs, and this country was founded on the separation of church and state.”

“At 31, I don’t see people because of the color of their skin and I don’t recognize them by their sexuality,” she added. “For my own generation, a lot of times homosexuality is not the biggest deal in the world. And that’s okay.”

The room sat quietly as Fenton spoke. Social conservatives respectfully listened.

Then platform committee chairman Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, asked if anyone wanted to speak. A sea of hands shot up.

“Our party has always been the party of defending traditional marriage,” said Sharee Langenstein from Illinois. “We need to continue being the party that defends traditional marriage.”

Indiana representative Jim Bopp called civil unions “counterfeit marriage.”

“The recognition of marriage between a man and a woman when the government does that has nothing to do with the separation of church and state,” he said.

Fenton was one of four people to speak in support of more gay rights in the platform. Aggressively working the halls of the meeting were representatives of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that supports gay rights. They were overpowered and outmaneuvered by social conservative groups like the Family Research Council. FRC President Tony Perkins, for example, is Louisiana’s male representative to the platform session….

After the civil unions amendment failed, Nevada representative Pat Kerby tried to amend the traditional marriage section to say that every American should be treated “equally under the law” as long as they are not hurting anyone else. He said that the GOP should focus on an economic message, not waging the culture wars.

“I believe this is the most important election of our lives,” said Kerby, a strong supporter of Ron Paul. “I believe this social issues grants Hollywood and the media to paint us as people who aren’t after a free country but kind of theological ‘we want to impose our will on others.’”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach opposed the amendment on the ground that government routinely regulates behaviors like drugs and polygamy “We condemn those activities even though they’re not hurting other people, at least directly,” he said….

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