Republicans reject proposal to endorse same-sex civil unions

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By Peter Hamby, CNN Political Reporter

Tampa, Florida (CNN) – The Republican Party’s platform committee on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have expressed formal support for same-sex civil unions.

The platform committee, tasked with drafting the party’s official list of principles and positions on a range of issues, is meeting in Tampa ahead of next week’s GOP Convention.

Rhode Island delegate Barbara Fenton proposed the amendment. She said that as a 31-year-old, the party’s longtime opposition to legal rights for same-sex couples is increasingly out-of-step with the beliefs of her friends and peers.

“For my own generation, a lot of times homosexuality isn’t the biggest deal in the world anymore, and that’s okay,” Fenton told the 110-member committee and its chairman, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Her proposal was seconded by a handful of people in the room — but two leading conservatives on the platform committee, Indiana’s Jim Bopp and Louisiana’s Tony Perkins, sternly argued against it.

Bopp, an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, called civil unions “counterfeit marriage.”

Perkins, the head of the conservative Family Research Council, made a forceful argument for “traditional marriage,” calling it a cornerstone of a healthy society.

“This would move the party away immensely for the position this party has held,” Perkins said.

The proposal died in a voice vote, meaning the Republican Party will continue to formally oppose anything other than marriage between one man and one woman.