Alabama congressional candidate Dean Young is causing a stir in the Alabama Republican Party after challenging his eight opponents in the Republican primary to sign an outrageous pledge against same-sex marriage. While his opponents recognize the potential for political suicide, the congressional hopeful doesn't seem to care that he's heading straight for disaster.
Young, a businessman from of Orange Beach, has been extremely outspoken on maintaining the “family values” of Alabama. In addition to asking his Republican opponents to sign a pledge against same-sex marriage, he is advocating for drastic changes in the Alabama Republican Party bylaws. The amendment would seek to expel a member from the steering committee if he or she took a public stance supporting same-sex marriage. Not only does the pledge polarize Republicans with the party, it solidifies the party to Christian conservative ideals that violate religious freedom. If Young and his party have any hope of continuing to hold office on a national scale, they will put down this ridiculous pledge and begin listening to the changing views of voters.
Through the outrageous tenets of the pledge, Young creates an exclusive Republican Party fit only for Christians. Using phrases such as “my church” or “I believe the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality” excludes Americans from the Republican Party who do not fit these religious criteria. Furthermore, the pledge is in violation of the Alabama constitution, which states, “No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges, and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles.” The staunch believer in founding principles seems to be missing a key component of American history. By attempting to expel members from office because of their religious beliefs, Young is disregarding their right to religious freedom.
The national Republican Party is at a crossroads and Republicans gunning for office in 2016 know that deterring young people from voting for the party won’t win any elections. Recent polls show that over 55% of Americans support same-sex marriage, and 13 states have made it legal. Young people now more than ever are supporting equal rights for same-sex couples. Establishing a pledge with strict anti-gay guidelines limits political conversation and discourages newcomers to the party.
Shifting demographics are showing how insecure the foundations of the Republican Party are, leaving some Republicans eager to appeal to young people of varying views. Firm pledges such as Young's dissuade newcomers and can only hurt the future of the party. While Young's opponents are unlikely to join him in his pledge, the voters will get to make the final decision on whether Young is fit to lead the state's 1st Congressional District on September 24.