Delegates and operatives working with the American Unity Fund, a pro-LGBT GOP issues advocacy group with the support of billionaire Paul Singer, were circulating petitions here in an effort to convince at least 28 members of the convention Platform Committee to sign off on a so-called "minority report" -- a maneuver that would guarantee floor time for debate at the full convention next week.
The group told repoters and fellow committee members they had the support of 37 delegates Tuesday night, but the effort began to unravel shortly thereafter.
The group tried to submit their signatures before proceedings on the platform closed Tuesday night, but were told they would need to wait until Monday, when the full convention convenes. They will have a one-hour window to physically hand in their signatures on Monday, at a time that has yet to be scheduled.
The proposal would not add LGBT language into the platform. Instead, it would replace the more than 60-page draft platform with a 1,200 word statement of 17 core principles of the Republican Party, a proposal by Utah delegate Boyd
Shortly after they announced their intentions, however, Matheson delivered a press conference, ushered in and out by RNC staffers, where he repudiated the effort and claimed his proposal was "hijacked" for "divisive purposes." Three other delegates who had signed on quickly told the press they would also be pulling out and had been misled on what they were supporting.
The group argues that moving to a simple, clearly stated platform removes all the controversy associated with the debate over LGBT issues and a host of other topics -- and would be an advantage in offering a contrast with Democrats.
The move could also force a potentially messy floor debate on national television as Republicans try to defend all the elements of the lengthy platform, including provisions like one passed Monday declaring internet porn a "public health crisis" and the anti-LGBT language.
The group has spent two days forcing uncomfortable debates and votes on both platform subcommittees and the full committee proceedings broadcast live. Time and again, the delegates bringing up amendments to the platform to introduce LGBT-friendly language have been defeated, as fellow Republicans have argued against singling out the LGBT community as a particular group and supporting traditional marriage.
D.C. delegate Rachel Hoff, who announced publicly Monday night that she is gay, offered an amendment at one point, she said, just to test "just how far this committee is willing to go to avoid a single positive reference to the LGBT community."
At another point, she pleaded with the committee to add an amendment decrying terrorist targeting of gay people, saying, "Can you not at the very least stand up for the right for us not to be killed?"
Both efforts were defeated.
The platform proposal was raised as an amendment at the end of proceedings, but was ruled out of order.