Republicans moved toward adopting a staunchly conservative platform that takes a strict, traditionalist view of the family and child rearing, bars military women from combat, describes coal as a “clean” energy source and declares pornography a “public health crisis.”
It is a platform that at times seems to channel the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump — calling to “destroy ISIS,” belittling President Obama as weak and accusing his administration of inviting attacks from adversaries.
But the document positions itself far to the right of Mr. Trump’s beliefs in other places — and amounts to a rightward lurch even from the party’s hard-line platform in 2012 — especially as it addresses gay men, lesbians and transgender people.
As delegates debated in two marathon sessions here on Monday and Tuesday, they repeatedly rejected efforts by more moderate members of the platform committee to add language that would acknowledge or condemn anti-gay discrimination — something Mr. Trump has done himself.
The numerous additions to the platform on marriage, family, homosexuality and gender issues were a reflection of just how much society and the law have shifted since Republicans adopted their last platform four years ago. And the debate this week showed just how unsettled many Republicans remain with those changes.
In 2012, the Supreme Court had not yet ruled that same-sex marriage was a constitutional right, and transgender rights had not yet become a matter of intense national discussion.
But while public and legal opinion has moved steadily in one direction, the official declaration of Republican Party principles appears to be heading sharply in the opposite direction. The party’s approach to social issues now threatens to disrupt the convention next week. Moderate delegates pushing for gay rights language in the platform secured enough signatures on Tuesday to demand a vote on their proposals from all 2,475 delegates.
Social conservatives in the party exerted significant influence over the drafting and amending of the platform this week, succeeding in almost all of their efforts to add language that pushed the document more to the right.
And what Republicans will probably end up with when they formally vote next week to ratify the platform approved in committee on Tuesday is a text that can seem almost Victorian in its moralizing and deeply critical of how the modern American family has evolved.
The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”
It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.”
The pornography provision was not in an initial draft that the Republican National Committee drew up and released on Sunday. But delegates added it on Monday at the same time they were inserting many of the amendments opposing gay and transgender rights. It calls pornography “a public menace” that is especially harmful to children.
Much of the most combative debate centered on language in the platform that describes gay and transgender people, and efforts to strip those words out and replace them with language proposed by a minority contingent of socially moderate delegates.
An amendment to specifically recognize that gay people are targets of the Islamic State caused a stir among more conservative delegates who said they felt there was no need to single out any one group. As the delegate who offered the amendment, Giovanni Cicione of Rhode Island, argued his case — by saying he believed it was an “innocuous and important” way to tell gay people the Republican Party does not exclude them — another delegate moved to shut off the debate.
Jim Bopp, a delegate from Indiana, said the Republican Party had always rejected “identity politics.” Arguing against the measure, he said, “Obviously, there’s an agenda here.”
The amendment was defeated, as were others in a similar vein.
But nearly every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. The platform calls for overturning the Supreme Court marriage decision with a constitutional amendment and makes references to appointing judges “who respect traditional family values.”
“Has a dead horse been beaten enough yet?” asked Annie Dickerson, a committee member from New York, who chastised her colleagues for writing language offensive to gays into the platform “again and again and again.”
Additional provisions included those that promoted state laws to limit which restrooms transgender people could use, nodded to “conversion therapy” for gays by saying that parents should be free to make medical decisions about their children without interference and stated that “natural marriage” between a man and a woman is most likely to result in offspring who do not become drug-addicted or otherwise damaged.
If Mr. Trump, who has children with three different wives, does not share all of the party’s most socially conservative stances, he could certainly be heartened by other additions to the platform, especially on national security and defense.
One section is titled “A Dangerous World,” echoing Mr. Trump’s assertions of the unstable nature of current geopolitics. There is specific reference to the failings of “the secretary of state” — a jab at Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s presumed Democratic Party opponent.
Mr. Trump’s influence was also evident in the absence of any mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that was promoted in the last Republican platform.
Another tweak to the platform’s language on immigration will also please Mr. Trump: Though the initial draft called for building a “physical barrier” along the United States border with Mexico, that passage was amended yesterday to call specifically for a wall.
Yet it was the lack of much interference by Mr. Trump or his aides that seemed to set the tone for the platform’s direction. That allowed conservative activists like Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, to exert greater influence. Mr. Perkins’s hand could be seen in dozens of amendments on issues like gun control, religious expression and bathroom use.
“He is going to be the nominee for the party. He has his own ideas,” Mr. Perkins told reporters on Monday. “But this is a statement of not Donald Trump’s campaign, but of the Republican Party.”