What happened at the 2020 Republican Party of Texas State Convention?
Despite the unusual circumstances of having a last-minute virtual convention due to COVID-19 and Houston Mayor Turner’s unchecked power grab, much was accomplished regarding faith, family, and freedom at the 2020 Texas GOP Convention.
Days before the convention was set to convene in Houston, Mayor Turner directed the Houston First Corporation, the city-run entity that owns George Brown Convention Center, to break their contract with the Republican Party of Texas (RPT). After a series of emergency legal filings by the RPT, which were denied by the courts, delegates and convention attendees were notified the convention would have to be conducted online in order to accomplish their Constitutional duties on time. Despite this difficulty, it was decided that temporary committee meetings should continue in person at the nearby Marriott Marquis conference center.
The Texas Values policy team spent Monday through Wednesday on the ground in Houston testifying as delegates and policy experts before committees while monitoring life, family, and religious freedom issues. The team had the opportunity to assist committee members in solidifying the platform on Christian conservative issues and to make sure that religious freedom, life, and the protection of children from harmful gender transitioning were on the list for legislative priorities in the 2021 legislative session.
The legislative priorities committee decided on 15 issues to be the most important for the next legislative session. Issues supported by Texas Values made the top four (4) on the list of eight (8) priorities as finally approved by nearly 4,000 delegates, with religious freedom being the number two (2) issue for the next legislative session with priorities on pro-life and outlawing gender transitioning procedures and medications for minors listed close behind at three (3) and four (4).
In addition to legislative priority work, the policy team also worked with the platform committee to make sure faith and family issues were addressed. The Texas Values policy team introduced a new plank to the platform committee regarding transgender athletes in sports called “Fair Play for Texas Athletes.” The plank states that biological men should compete against other biological men and biological women should compete against other biological women. The team was able to successfully get the plank introduced and added in the Education subcommittee; however, there was a fight to make sure this plank maintained effective language throughout the process. There was also debate on the life issue and whether the platform should adopt principles reflecting a more encompassing strategy called the “Abolish Abortion” strategy. Texas Values also defended against efforts to eliminate a plank on LGBT issues in the Health and Human Services section of the platform. A few moments before midnight, an LGBT activist committee member moved to delete a plank from the 2018 platform that opposes LGBT special protections in the Health and Human Services section of the platform. The motion was seconded due to confusion; however, the plank serves as a reminder that supporters believe health professionals should not be forced to perform procedures that infringe on their religious beliefs and that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund transgender surgeries. Ultimately, the platform committee decided to re-insert the plank from the 2018 platform on opposing LGBT special protections in the Health and Human Services section of the platform, an outcome we fought for and supported.
After all the work by temporary committees on the platform, the majority of convention delegates voted to finalize the platform at a later time during a second convention in the future. Texas Values will continue to monitor and advocate for pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious freedom priorities when the new convention is set.
After the temporary committees met in the first half of the week, the general sessions of the convention with the full delegation were conducted online. Senate District and Congressional District caucuses also took place online through the weekend. The function of these caucus meetings is to allow delegates to vote on presidential electors, State Republican Executive Committee members, permanent committees, and the state party chairman’s race.
The part of the convention that many delegates look forward to the most is selecting a state party chairman. Because of technical difficulties, the SD caucuses were unable to vote for the chairman until late Sunday night/early Monday morning. Texas Values Action has worked well with Chairman James Dickey in the past promoting religious freedom and family in the Republican Party of Texas which led to Texas Values Action endorsing him in the chairman race. However, the Republican Party of Texas elected a new chairman, Lt. Colonel Allen West. LTC West is also a good friend of Texas Values and Texas Values Action, having spoken at our Faith and Family Day in 2019. He has also been a guest on our radio show, The Texas Values Report multiple times. We look forward to working with Chairman West on the issues of faith, family, and freedom in the upcoming legislative session and fighting together to keep Texas great.