Metro Weekly

GOP congressman attempting to block party’s gay candidates

Randy Forbes.jpg

A Republican congressman is under fire from LGBT groups following a report that he has been pushing to block campaign donations to gay GOP congressional candidates.

According to a report published Wednesday evening by Politico, Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes has been actively seeking to convince colleagues on Capitol Hill as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee, which donates to GOP congressional campaigns, to end their support for Republican candidates who are gay.

Forbes’s anti-gay campaign comes as Carl DeMaio, an out gay Republican who served on the San Diego City Council, is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Scott Peters. In Massachusetts, many suspect Richard Tisei, another out Republican, will again challenge Democratic Rep. John Tierny after narrowly losing to Tierny in 2012 by 47.1 percent to 48.3 percent. Tisei announced in October that he was creating a committee to explore another run.

“You either want Republicans to win, or you don’t — it’s as simple as that,” said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo in a statement. “Apparently, Congressman Forbes does not. Thankfully, the real GOP leaders in the House know how to pick winners, and their money is on Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio.”

Although Forbes has been pushing back against candidates like DeMaio and Tisei, the majority of Republican leadership, from House Speaker John Boehner to Majority Leader Eric Cantory and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, have been supportive of their campaigns.

Asked during a press conference on Capitol Hill Thursday whether he believes his party should support gay candidates, Boehner responded, “I do.” Boehner helped fundraise for Tisei last year.

Forbes’s actions come as the political landscape continues to shift rapidly on LGBT rights and as the GOP has sought to make inroads into the gay community following the 2012 presidential election. In March, the Republican National Committee released an expansive “autopsy” report providing a path forward for the party, with gay inclusion cited specifically. 

Three Senate Republicans — Rob Portman (Ohio), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have endorsed same-sex marriage in the past year. Last month, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would outlaw anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, passed the Senate with the support of 10 Republicans – the most Republican senators to have ever voted for a piece of gay-rights legislation. Despite those advances, much of the party remains opposed to key LGBT issues such as marriage equality.

With the Democratic Party firmly entrenched in its support for LGBT rights, activists have turned their focus to softening the GOP’s opposition to LGBT issues. Among the ways they have sought to do that is by electing out Republican candidates. 

Declaring Forbes’s rhetoric an “embarrassment to Republicans everywhere,” the organization GOProud said in a statement, “This type of rhetoric is symptomatic of someone who does not understand the importance of being a team player. Our Party cannot win elections by appealing to the lowest common denominator amongst the minority of American voters.” 

Although gay Republicans have come out while serving in Congress in the past, DeMaio or Tisei would be the first out gay Republican candidate ever elected to Congress should they win.

[Photo: Randy Forbes. Credit: U.S. House of Representatives.]

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