Metro Weekly

From Tuesday to Tomorrow

Gay conservatives hope to teach Election Day's lessons


R. Clarke Cooper

R. Clarke Cooper

(Photo via twitter @RClarkeCooper)

According to Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper, several groups are set to convene over the next few weeks with Republican Party leadership around the country in order to address what is seen as a growing identity crisis for the Grand Old Party.

The Republican base is shrinking, as exit polls demonstrated.

LGB voters made up 5 percent of the electorate this election, 76 percent of whom voted for Obama. Exit polls also showed a growing gender gap with 55 percent of women voting for Obama.

Romney lost the youth vote and the Hispanic vote as well. With the country’s immigrant population growing steadily, the fact that Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, up from 67 percent in 2008, is an issue worth worrying about. Moreover, a majority of each of those demographics supports marriage equality.

”We have yet to have somebody emerge in the Republican Party and say, ‘Enough,”’ says Cooper. ”You don’t have to be the director of Log Cabin to look at how our teeth got kicked in on Tuesday and know something’s gotta give.”

Up until Log Cabin Republicans, the largest LGBT Republican organization, issued a ”qualified endorsement” for Romney two weeks before Election Day, GOProud was the only group of gay conservatives to endorse Romney for president, having declared their support for the Romney-Ryan ticket in June despite his support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

A week after Election Day, Romney campaign signs and bumper stickers still dot the walls of GOProud’s offices in the basement of a Capitol Hill townhouse.

”We can throw this away,” LaSalvia says as he crumples up a page of Romney campaign contacts.

For months, LaSalvia and GOProud argued that a vote for Romney was ultimately in the best interest of gay people because of his economic vision. In the end, a majority of voters disagreed, with the LGB electorate among Obama’s strongest supporters. Today, more than ever before, that 5 percent of the electorate is communicating their views on LGBT issues to friends and families, potentially influencing millions of voters.

”The message of this election was jobs and the economy, but you also have to appear to be a normal person, too. People want to know that you understand how issues affect them and that you’ve thought about it,” says LaSalvia. ”Most Americans are willing to vote for somebody they disagree with on some specific issues – they just want to know that you get it. And Mitt Romney wasn’t able to show that he gets it. And Republicans all over the country demonstrated that some of them don’t get it. It tainted the entire party in the last election.”

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.