Conservative Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore of Las Vegas invited a few extra guests Tuesday night to the regular pasta dinners she has for constituents.
The meal was the last official stop for a group of young conservatives traveling the country — visiting battleground states such as Nevada first — as part of a $1 million campaign to get the national Republican Party to support gay marriage in its party platform in 2016. The group has been to Iowa and New Hampshire. South Carolina is the next stop.
Nevada already is ahead of the curve, said Tyler Deaton, campaign manager of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry. That’s because the Nevada Republican Party at its state convention in April stripped its party platform of language that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, leading the nation on the issue.
“Nevada Republicans are showing progress across the board,” Deaton said in an interview. “I think a lot of Republicans are starting to recognize that the goal of government and marriage is to give everybody an equal opportunity to be happy.”
Deaton praised GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, saying he respects the governor’s belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman. At the same time, Sandoval agreed with state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is no longer legally defensible because of recent court decisions.
“I think that’s really mature and responsible of him to make a distinction between a personal view informed by faith with how we’re going to govern America,” Deaton said. “We understand people are going to have different views on morality.”
Other GOP leaders have expressed opposition to anti-gay marriage language in party platforms in Indiana, Oregon, New Mexico and California, according to the Freedom to Marry campaign.
Meanwhile, courts across the country have been ruling anti-gay marriage language in state laws unconstitutional, and 19 states so far have legalized same-sex marriage. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals this month heard oral arguments in a case challenging Nevada’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and is expected to rule soon.
The five young conservatives with Freedom to Marry met Monday and Tuesday with about a half-dozen GOP elected officials in Nevada, but Deaton would name only Fiore. The group also had meetings with Republican activists, campaign operatives and longtime supporters of gay marriage, he said.
Deaton said the campaign is encouraging young conservatives to become delegates to the Republican National Convention, where the platform language will be set in 2016 as the GOP meeting votes on its presidential nominee. The convention will be held in Cleveland.
He said the national GOP platform has five sections with anti-gay or anti-gay marriage language. The young conservatives want the language replaced with statements backing same-sex marriage.
The proposed new language says, in part: “We recognize that there are diverse and sincerely held views on civil marriage within the Party, and that support for allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry has grown substantially in our own Party. Given this journey that so many Americans, including Republicans, are on, we encourage and welcome a thoughtful conversation among Republicans about the meaning and importance of marriage, and commit our Party to respect for all families and fairness and freedom for all Americans.”
Fiore, who was raised by a lesbian mother, said conservatives and Republicans stand for freedom.
“If we’re the party of freedom and fairness, where is there any room in the Republican Party to discriminate against the person you love and want to marry?” Fiore asked. “It’s a pretty simple concept.”
Contact Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.