A proposed amendment to the bylaws of the Alabama Republican Party would remove from the Party’s steering committee any member who publicly supports a position contrary to the most recent GOP platform, which was adopted during the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Don Wallace of Tuscaloosa and Bonnie Sachs of Double Springs are the amendment’s sponsors. Sachs’ husband, Harold, is the most senior staffer at the Alabama Republican Party under Chairman Bill Armistead.
Party insiders say the proposed amendment was written as a direct result of comments made by current Alabama College Republicans Chairwoman Stephanie Petelos around the time the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
“We just [love] freedom and fun. That’s all. Don’t hate.” Petelos posted on her Facebook page after the Court’s decision was announced. She also encouraged her Facebook friends to “like” a page for a pro-gay marriage group called “Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry.” Petelos said she joined the group because she believes “all people deserve to be treated equally under the law.” She has since left the group on her own accord.
Petelos declined to comment for this story.
Some Party leaders reacted strongly to Petelos’ statements, moving to have her removed from the Party’s steering committee, a position she holds as a result of being elected chair of the Alabama College Republicans.
A verbal agreement was reached between Party leaders and Petelos in which she agreed to not speak publicly in support of gay marriage in her official capacity as College Republicans chair. In return, the Party leaders said they would drop the issue. But the ALGOP bylaws committee went a step further and proposed a written agreement that instructed Petelos to never speak publicly against any part of the Party’s platform. She declined to sign it.
Some members of the Party’s steering committee and executive committee feel like the issue is unresolved.
“I feel like as a member of the Steering Committee and leadership, that you have a higher duty to support the party’s platform in your official capacity,” said Don Wallace, President of the Alabama Republican Assembly and Past Vice-Chairman of ALGOP. “When the College Republican Chairwoman made official statements in conflict with the party platform’s support for traditional marriage, as well as the Governor and Chairman Armistead, I believe that requires action by the Republican Party on both procedural and moral grounds.”
But although support for gay marriage is clearly the issue Wallace is trying to address, his proposed amendment calls for action to be taken against a member of Party leadership if they public oppose any portion of the Party’s platform.
Yellowhammer asked Wallace if he was concerned his amendment may affect members of the Party who disagree with more obscure portions of the Party’s platform.
“I don’t see [anyone] on a crusade on those obscure matters,” Wallace replied.
The amendment will be voted on by the Alabama Republican Party executive committee at the Party’s summer meeting on Aug. 24.