Republican Convention 2016 Cleveland
An American flag lies on the ground at the feet of a protester near the the site of the Republican National ConventionSpencer Platt/Getty Images

If any Republicans were hoping that the party platform was going to make the GOP tent a bit more welcoming and larger (and convention attendance greater) it was not to be.

The 2016 Republican Party Platform - a manifesto which sets out the party's positions and officially passed this week (18 July), champions the family as the "foundation of civil society," and notes that the "cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman."

LGBT Republicans in particular were left out in the cold by one of the most conservative GOP manifestos in memory, including tacit support for the hugely controversial "gay conversion" or "pray-away-the-gay" therapy.

It insists that a "mother and father in the home" create the best environment for raising "physically and emotionally healthier" children, and that "every child deserves a married mom and a married dad."

The debate over the party's social issues platform was particularly heated and included some of the hardest-line social conservatives in the US, such as Family Research Council President, Tony Perkins.

Party platform's stance 'outrageous'

Supporters of the LGBT community, who had expected to make some headway on the platform, had their hopes dashed across the board.

Platform committee member and New York delegate Annie Dickerson, an adviser to billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer, a proponent of same-sex marriage and many other LGBT issues, called platform points "another poke in the eye to the gay community," warning her fellow committee members at a hearing: "Stop repelling gays, for God's sakes."

Dickerson was particularly furious about the language in the platform against same-sex marriage, which she pointed out is legal in the US.

"It's outrageous to suggest that children of a gay couple are more likely to be completely unbalanced and to use drugs and criminals," she said, her voice breaking in anger at the platform hearing. "This is so provocative. I completely disagree with the language and I would not support this language. I would hope other fellow members would want to have a party of addition and not subtraction."

Dickerson, who has adopted children, accused committee members of "blatant discrimination" over an amendment that would keep publicly funded adoption agencies from giving custody of children to gay couples.

"We need children to be adopted, so hooray to the gay community for trying to raise children in a happy and stable home," she said. "This is blatant discrimination and should not be in our platform."

And though the platform states: "We do not accept the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal," an exasperated Dickerson pointed out: "They're not going to change the ruling. I know it's hard," she added sarcastically, "but that's the law of the land."

RNC 2016
Delegates stand during the playing of national anthem at the second day of the the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. LGBT Republican supporters are feeling left out by the latest party platform, released on 18 July, 2016.Reuters

Delegate Rachel Hoff, the only openly gay member on the 112-member platform committee, made a final impassioned plea to adopt softer language on gay marriage.

"We're your daughters, your sons, your neighbours, colleagues and the couples you sit next to you in church," Hoff said, fighting back tears. "Freedom means freedom for everyone, including for gays and lesbians."

But every provision that expressed disapproval of homosexuality, same-sex marriage or transgender rights passed. "This is a deal-breaker issue for a lot of millennials," said Hoff after the committee had approved the entire platform. "This is a litmus test for young Republicans."

The platform was even seemingly swinging to the right of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. It "salutes" states such as North Carolina for laws that force transgender people to use only the public toilet that conforms with their birth gender — even though Trump has previously said he believes that transgender people should use whatever bathroom they're comfortable with.

Controversial support for discredited 'gay conversion therapy'

The most controversial LGBT issue in the platform was support for the discredited "gay conversion therapy," backing parents who use the gruelling method to force their children to act straight. The techniques — based on force, prayer, pain and humiliation, are more akin to an exorcism than a health treatment — have been completely discredited by the medical community.

The support was so odious to the community that the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organisation of gay conservatives, took a newspaper ad out against the "morons" who created the "most anti-LGBT platform in the party's 162-year-old history."

Beyond setting wide-ranging protectionist positions and formalising support for the Mexican wall, other conservative touch points in the platform include demanding that the bible be taught in schools, touting coal as a "clean" energy source, insisting that legislators use religion as a guide in lawmaking, appointing "family values" judges, and barring female soldiers from combat.

The platform also supports an anti-abortion "human life amendment to the Constitution," making a fetus a human being with the same rights as the pregnant woman carrying it. It also makes a firm point of rejecting stricter gun control.

Trade was a bit of a sticking point between the platform committee and Trump. The only mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was removed after committee members couldn't agree on the best way to address the issue. Trump has made his opposition to the TPP and other international trade deals a cornerstone of his campaign.