New York Republicans endorsed an uncompromising position against gay unions Wednesday in a manifesto that contrasts with Vice President Dick Cheney's supportive comments about gay rights and the moderate face the party will show at next week's national convention.
A panel made up largely of conservative delegates approved platform language that calls for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposes legal recognition of any sort for gay civil unions.
The GOP's full platform committee, seeking to appease party members who support gay or abortion rights without embracing their positions, adopted language later that states Republicans "respect and accept" dissenting views.
"We are the party of the open door," said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who led platform deliberations on social issues.
But some activists sharply criticized their party for adopting a hard line in advance of a convention that will seek support from swing voters and more liberal Republicans.
Christopher Barron of the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP gay-rights group, was livid after the panel endorsed the first-ever call for a constitutional gay-marriage ban in a GOP platform and went beyond that to oppose legal recognition of any same-sex unions.
"You can't craft a vicious, mean-spirited platform and then try to put lipstick on the pig by putting Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger on in prime time," he said in an interview.
Giuliani, former New York mayor, and California Gov. Schwarzenegger are among moderate Republicans accorded prominent convention speaking slots.
While Cheney's remarks of a day earlier prompted no discussion in the hearings, they were the subject of heavy cell-phone chatter outside the doors. Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, said during a campaign stop Tuesday that people should be free to have the relationships they want, and existing law may well be enough to uphold traditional marriage.