Despite some recent progress made on gay rights, the Texas Republican Party took a giant leap backwards earlier this month by endorsing so-called “reparative therapy.”

At its annual state convention June 7, roughly 7,000 delegates supported psychological treatments that try to “turn” gay people straight, at the urging of a tea party group called the Texas Eagle Forum, according to the Associated Press.

It was just last year that New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law banning the “therapy” for minors in the state; California also has a similar law.

At the time, the Journal Tribune Editorial Board heralded the signing of the law by a Republican governor as a major victory, but the Texas GOP’s decision shows just how deeply rooted the stereotypes and prejudice are in some people, especially in certain areas of this country.

Texas Republicans are likely to be poorly received by this action, even by members of their own party, and may alienate young Republicans who believe one’s personal life should not be dictated by the government.

At the Texas convention, Rudy Oeftering, who is vice president of the gay conservative group Metroplex Republicans, said it’s only a small group that wants to “keep the party in the past.” But that’s not clear from the vote, especially since the new anti-gay language the GOP adopted never even came up for debate at the event.

Although Oeftering and others had lined up to speak against the therapy language, they never got to address delegates, because a parliamentary motion to approve the full platform was called first, according to the AP.

Oeftering was right when he said “the only way the party can go into the future is to start listening to young people, to start listening to people who have gay family members.”

But it doesn’t seem like the party ”“ at least in Texas ”“ wants to move forward.

Just as the nation saw in the 2008 elections, tea partiers have a lot of pull. Even if their views do not reflect the majority opinion, they are well-organized and willing to stand up and speak out to get their agenda through state legislatures and the U.S. House and Senate.

Hopefully, young people will get more involved, particularly when it comes time to head to the polls, especially if they don’t agree with decisions like endorsing reparative therapy.

It’s important for everyone to make their voices heard, so all views are represented by those in elected office, not only those who shout the loudest. It’s also important to continue to push for equality by condemning decisions like the Texas GOP’s and fight back by voting for candidates and other politicians who support an individual’s right to identify as gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

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Today’s editorial was written by City Editor Robyn Burnham Rousseau on behalf of the Journal Tribune Editorial Board. Questions? Comments? Contact Managing Editor Kristen Schulze Muszynski by calling 282-1535, ext. 322, or via email at [email protected]