Donald Trump Keeps Distance in G.O.P. Platform Fight on Gay Rights

Donald J. Trump in Cincinnati last week.

By JEREMY W. PETERS – – – —

Same-sex marriage and transgender rights are emerging as points of serious strain between social conservatives and moderates who are trying to shape the Republican platform, reviving a festering cultural dispute as thousands of party activists and delegates prepare for their convention.

Caught in the middle is Donald J. Trump, who claims “tremendous support, tremendous friendship” from gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and who has gone further than most party figures to embrace them. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he is also trying to assuage doubts about the convictions of his conservatism.
One of the most contentious issues confronting delegates when they meet on Monday to debate the platform will be whether to adopt a provision defending state laws that try to prevent transgender people from using the public restroom of their choice. At times, Mr. Trump has criticized those laws.
But he has also promised not to interfere with the platform, which serves as the party’s official declaration of principles.
Even as Mr. Trump keeps his distance from the debate, other Republicans who share his more accepting view of gay and transgender issues are working aggressively to tone down some of the existing platform’s language. Paul E. Singer, a billionaire Republican who has financed gay rights battles across the country, is now funding an effort to write into the platform language more inclusive of gays, lesbians and transgender people.
The goal of his group, the American Unity Fund, is not to get the party to endorse same-sex marriage but to add a more open-ended statement that commits the party “to respect for all families,” though there is still fierce resistance from the right.
The Republican National Committee, with help from conservative activists, has been putting together a draft of the 2016 version over the last several weeks. Members of the platform committee received the draft on Sunday evening and will add or change certain provisions over the next two days.
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