The Clark County, Nev., Republican Party edited its official platform statement over the weekend to remove a section defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, cut out a statement opposing abortion and added a section affirming people of all sexual orientations The Associated Press reported.
The pivot came over the weekend after some debate and a vote at the group’s central committee meeting in Las Vegas. Strong statements on social issues don’t align with the group’s belief in individual freedom, according to Nick Phillips, the organization’s political director.
“A big part of it has to do with personal liberty and smaller government,” he said Tuesday, “and other people not infringing on our rights and beliefs.”
The Clark County GOP is among the first in the country to make such changes to their platform statement. It comes amid overall shifts in public opinion on same-sex marriage, changes in the county party leadership and efforts to appeal to a broader base.
“Younger people believe they’re getting screwed by the Democrats on fiscal issues, and screwed by Republicans on social issues,” Phillips said. “Take that away and you’ve got a party you can get behind.”
About 570 people attended the committee meeting, and about 100 to 120 people opposed overhauling the platform statement in a vote Saturday, Phillips said. Critics raised concerns that abandoning the marriage definition would lead to the government forcing churches to perform weddings for gay couples.
Removing the anti-abortion provision drew even more strident opposition, Phillips said.
The platform now includes seven tenets outlining the Republican stance on jobs, public education, health care, immigration reform, taxation, fiscal responsibility and personal rights.
Clark County is home to three-fourths of Nevada’s residents, but it’s unclear whether the state Republican Party will follow suit and eliminate abortion and gay marriage language in its platform statement.
The state party is scheduled to hold its convention in Las Vegas April 11 and 12.