Members of the Alabama Republican Party are looking to oust the head of their college community from her position on the state steering committee for refusing to denounce marriage equality on constitutional grounds, Buzzfeed reported on Friday.
Stephanie Petelos, who leads the College Republicans Federation of Alabama (CRFA), told Buzzfeed that fellow committee member Bonnie Sachs has been enlisting support for a plan to have her kicked off the board, in violation of an agreement Petelos had reached with state leadership regarding comments published in the Birmingham News in June 2013.
Sachs has co-sponsored an amendment to state party bylaws allowing for committee members who voice opinions “contrary to the most recently adopted platform at the Republican National Convention” without prior approval to be kicked off. Party members are scheduled to vote on the change this coming week.
Petelos told the News that the party’s reliance on faith-based rhetoric was alienating it from younger members who identify as Republicans because of their political stances, or who may support same-sex marriage in silence out of fear of being bullied by older party members.
“The majority of students don’t derive the premise of their argument for or against gay marriage from religion, because we’re governed by the constitution and not the Bible,” Petelos told the News.
Petelos said she supported the idea of arguing for states’ rights regarding marriage equality as a political issue, but voiced her frustrations at the use of religion as a justification for opposing it.
“Kids who don’t have fathers, parents without education who aren’t able to give their kids the opportunities they deserve, that’s the decline in America that people need to talk about,” Petelos told the News. “Those are the social issues in this country that are hurting us. Not two people who love each other and are trying to build a life together. That’s not going to ruin America.”
A movement to expel her from her steering committee seat — one traditionally held by the CRFA chair — began after state chair Bill Armistead denounced Petelo’s comments as “an affront to the Christian principles that this nation was founded on.” Petelos told Buzzfeed she made a deal not to issue public statements on the issue in exchange for keeping her place on the committee, before Sachs introduced her proposed change to the bylaws.
“It’s an internal issue that the party will handle,” Sachs told Buzzfeed about the matter.
Petelos was the subject of a glowing profile on the state party website in April 2013, which billed her as “a rising Republican star.”
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