After the Republican National Committee hinted at new outreach to gay voters, and possibly changing its stance or at least its tone on gay-rights issues, 11 influential social-conservative groups aired their grievances in a letter addressed to Priebus timed to coincide with the start of the RNC's meeting.
Led by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who told donors not to give national Republican leaders "a dime of your hard-earned money" until the party clarified its positions on social issues.
"We respectfully warn GOP leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support," the groups warned Priebus. "We could not change that even if we wished to."
The group of signers included a who's who of prominent social conservative organizations: American Values President Gary Bauer; Family-PAC Federal Director Paul Caprio and VP of Government Affairs Sandy Rios; Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser; Family Talk Action President and founder James Dobson; Traditional Values Coalition President Andrea Lafferty and founder Louis P. Sheldon; CitizenLink President Tom Minnery; Religious Freedom Coaliion William J. Murray; Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute President Austin Ruse; Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly; and American Family Association President Tim Wildmon.
Perkins trumpeted the letter on his blog on the Family Research Council website, writing that the coalition had "made it quite clear what the RNC stood to lose by running left-of-center on issues like life and marriage, adding that "until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don't give them a dime of your hard-earned money."
The letter hinted that Republicans may be softening on gay rights issues.
In seeking to reboot the party after its 2012 election losses, Priebus and the RNC released a "Growth and Opportunity Project" report that suggested multiple changes to make the party more appealing to a broader swath of voters, including gays and lesbians.
"Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the party is a place they want to be," the report's authors wrote.
While Perkins said that passing the anti-gay marriage resolution would be "a gesture of good faith" other Republicans balked. Two former RNC employees wrote an op-ed in the National Review on Thursday urging the committee members gathered in Los Angles to reject it.
"As former RNC operatives, we firmly believe that passage of the resolution would be a significant setback in terms of party unity and branding, and would move the RNC further into a function that is outside its primary purpose: winning elections," wrote former staffers Liz Mair and Marco Nuñez.
The resolution, passed on Friday, was proposed by Dave Agema, an RNC committeeman from Michigan who recently posted an article on his Facebook page that refers to gays and lesbians as "filthy."