A Texas-based LGBT advocacy outlet helped spark a grammar debate this week over whether an errant comma in the stridently anti-homosexual Republican Party of Texas platform can be read as saying the majority of Texans are gay.
The plank that was approved by delegates at the party’s convention this month reads: “Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.”
Lone Star Q, which describes itself as the state’s No. 1 source for LGBT news, asked on Twitter on Wednesday to have a “grammar debate” over the wording.
In response, grammarians pointed out that placement of the final comma in the plank could lead to understanding it to mean that homosexuality is a chosen behavior shared by the majority of Texans. They also noted that “nations” should have an apostrophe and that by using “has been,” the plank gives the impression that homosexuality has been ordained by God.
More from NPR:
As Texas Monthly rightly points out, the sentence actually says that homosexual behavior “has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.” That’s probably not what Texas Republicans meant.
The august magazine blames that Oxford comma there at the end for the confusion, but we asked our aforementioned (and heroic) copy editors where the real problem was and they zeroed in on the verb “has.” It’s singular, so the rest of the sentence ends up referring to the noun “behavior” instead of “truths.”