Metro Weekly

Gay Republican: The GOP needs to “catch up” on LGBT issues

Rachel Hoff sat on the committee that created the most anti-LGBT party platform in Republican history

Photo: C-SPAN
Photo: C-SPAN

“I think we’ve got to catch up, not just on marriage but on a full spectrum of issues effecting the LGBT community.”

Rachel Hoff, the first (and only) openly LGBT person to participate in the Republican National Convention’s platform committee, speaking with ThinkProgress. That same committee created the most anti-LGBT party platform in GOP history.

Hoff garnered attention after she pleaded with her fellow committee members to recognize LGBT people. “We are your daughters, your sons, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues. All I ask today is that you include me and those like me,” she said. The committee responded by approving language that said marriage was only for heterosexual couples, that transgender people shouldn’t be allowed to use the restroom that reflects their gender identity, and that “conversion therapy” should be allowed for minors struggling with their sexuality/identity.

“It’s terrible,” Hoff said of that latter inclusion. “It’s hurtful. That is one thing that makes LGBT kids kill themselves, and the fact that we would have any reference to it is dangerous.”

However, Hoff maintains that “outside of the platform committee, our party is ready to move on.” She spoke with other delegates who apparently helped her cope with the majority of the platform committee rejecting LGBT rights, saying she realized how “out-of-step” the committee was with the country as a whole. Hoff argues that “[President] Barack Obama did not support marriage equality until 2008” and that “plenty of Republicans…came out for marriage equality before Hillary Clinton.”

Hoff was less convinced with Trump, who used his keynote speech to tell LGBTQ Americans that he would “protect” them from hateful ideologies.

“His rhetoric has been better than other Republicans, which I’ll admit is a low bar,” Hoff said. She noted that nothing Trump has previously said suggests “he would exercise any real leadership on this issue.”

Asked why she doesn’t leave the GOP, Hoff offers a similar argument to the Log Cabin Republicans — who were brutalized last week by Dan Savage for having failed at their mission to transform the party from the inside. Hoff wants people to help the GOP move forward on issues, not just abandon ship.

“If the Republicans don’t come along and evolve on this issue,” she said, “then we’ll never truly achieve the kind of acceptance, equality, and progress for the LGBT community that we want.”

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