Donald Trump Keeps Distance in G O P Platform Fight on Gay Rights

CLEVELAND — Same-sex marriage and transgender rights are emerging as points of serious strain between social conservatives and moderates who are trying to shape the Republican platform, reviving a festering cultural dispute as thousands of party activists and delegates prepare for their convention.

Caught in the middle is Donald J. Trump, who claims “tremendous support, tremendous friendship” from gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and has gone further than most party figures to embrace them. Gays, in fact, are one of the few minority groups Mr. Trump has not singled out for criticism. But as the presumptive Republican nominee, he is also trying to assuage doubts about the convictions of his conservatism.

The uncomfortable dynamic Mr. Trump has created for himself is perhaps best illustrated by his own calendar.

He huddled last month at a Manhattan hotel with hundreds of religious conservatives, many of them — like James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council — outspoken opponents of new legal protections for gay and transgender people.

A few days later, he took what an aide described as a friendly and supportive call from Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic decathlete who came out as transgender last year.

One of the most contentious issues confronting delegates when they meet on Monday to debate the platform will be whether to adopt a provision defending state laws that try to prevent transgender people from using the public restroom of their choice. At times Mr. Trump has criticized those laws. And he has said Ms. Jenner can use whatever bathroom she prefers at his properties.

But he has also promised not to interfere with the platform, which serves as the party’s official declaration of principles.



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