- The Magazine
The Log Cabin Republicans — America’s largest and oldest organization for LGBTQ conservatives — have endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2020.
In a glowing column for the Washington Post, chairman Robert Kabel and vice chairwoman Jill Homan extol the virtues of Trump’s presidency, the progress that has been made, and the benefits his policies have brought.
Most of all, they argue, Trump has “followed through on many of his commitments to the United States, including taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”
Wait, what? At best, that is myopic specificity. At worst, it’s a reality-bending, bald-faced lie. Above all else, that a major LGBTQ organization is endorsing Donald Trump as having been good for LGBTQ people is patently absurd.
The Log Cabin Republicans first started in the 1970s, and since then claims to have spent 40 years “working for change within the GOP” and “building new alliances in the LGBT community.” They say they are “shattering stereotypes” and “educating the GOP’s rank-and-file about the importance of fairness and equality for all Americans, including LGBT Americans.”
But this is also the same organization that, in 2016, slammed the Republican party’s election platform as “the most anti-LGBT…in the Party’s 162-year history.”
It was a platform that urged support for Supreme Court judges who would overthrow marriage equality, a platform that opposed same-sex marriage, a platform that rejected same-sex parent adoption, and that the New York Times editorial board said “makes homophobia and the denial of basic civil rights to gays, lesbians and transgender people a centerpiece.”
And, a couple of months later, Log Cabin Republicans refused to endorse then-nominee Trump, saying there was too much uncertainty over what he might do as president and noting that he had “surrounded himself with senior advisors with a record of opposing LGBT equality.”
So what, exactly, has changed between 2016 and 2019?
In one of the finest examples of cherry-picking in recent memory, Kabel and Homan highlight several aspects of the Trump presidency that they say have benefited LGBTQ people: his commitment to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years; the Trump administration’s push to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide; and the appointment of openly gay Richard Grenell to be U.S. ambassador to Germany.
In addition, they say Trump’s signature tax cuts have “benefited LGBTQ families and helped put food on their tables,” that his “hard line on foreign policy” has protected LGBTQ lives, and that Trump’s trade negotiations have “preserved LGBTQ jobs.”
But let’s look closely at some of those issues.
On HIV/AIDS, it’s commendable that the Trump administration has committed to reducing new HIV transmissions by 90 percent within 10 years. But Trump also fired the entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/ADS and then waited over a year to restaff it. He suspended access to materials necessary for research into a cure for HIV. His border agents separated migrant children from their HIV-positive parents, erroneously claiming that it was a “communicable disease.” And under Trump, the military has started discharging HIV-positive service members.
Decriminalizing homosexuality worldwide is an incredible goal — one being lead by Ambassador Grenell — and would aim to use sanctions and other methods to force the 71 nations with laws criminalizing same-sex sexual relations to revoke them. But Trump didn’t even seem to be aware of the plan after it had been announced, and the Trump-Pence 2020 campaign has been silent on the matter while attending rallies and fundraisers. Critics have even argued that it’s just a smokescreen to allow the U.S. to pursue harsher sanctions against Iran.
With regard to Ambassador Grenell, it’s certainly notable that Trump nominated an openly gay man to a top diplomatic role. And he recently nominated another gay man, Robert Gilchrist, to be ambassador to Lithuania.
But these token appointments pale in comparison to the sheer number of anti-LGBTQ people in Trump’s administration and comprising a large portion of the judges he has nominated to federal benches. The Victory Fund estimates that Trump has nominated “less than 20” LGBTQ people to any role since taking office, whereas at least a third of Trump’s federal circuit court nominees have a history of anti-LGBTQ bias.
Log Cabin may support Trump’s tax cuts, but they have predominantly benefited the wealthy and may be harming the economy. What impact was felt by trans women of color? One of the most marginalized groups in America, trans women of color face multiple crises and difficulties, including disproportionate murder rates, healthcare and employment discrimination, and reliance on sex work to earn money. Did Trump’s tax cuts “put food on their tables”?
Log Cabin Republicans claim that Trump’s foreign policy is saving LGBTQ lives, but his administration refuses to acknowledge the threat of domestic terrorism. Just this month, a white supremacist was arrested over a plot to attack gay bars and synagogues in Las Vegas, and the recent mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, claimed the life of the shooter’s own transgender brother.
Kabel and Homan say Trump’s trade deals have “preserved LGBTQ jobs,” but earlier this week the Trump administration announced plans to allow federal contractors to fire or refuse to hire LGBTQ people without repercussions. What about those jobs? And have they forgotten that last year Trump forced Mexico and Canada to remove LGBTQ employment protections from a North American trade deal?
“The arc of history for America’s LGBTQ community continues to bend toward equality and inclusion,” Kabel and Homan write in their column. But that arc has been undeniably sent shooting off course by the Trump administration’s actions over the past two-and-a-half years.
One only need look at the various anti-LGBTQ actions Trump and his cabinet members have taken since he assumed office in January 2017. They include:
And most of those happened this year.
Never mind that Trump opposes the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination nationwide, or that the administration is trying to revoke citizenship from a gay couple’s son, or that his administration proposed erasing recognition of transgender people from the federal government.
The list goes on, and on, and on.
But for Kabel, Homan, and the Log Cabin Republican party, none of this seemingly matters, because Trump has apparently “[removed] gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.”
Yes, they really wrote that, just two paragraphs after noting that “LGBTQ individuals can still be fired just for being gay in a majority of states in America,” and in the same week that Trump proposed allowing even more people to be fired for being LGBTQ.
Heck, earlier this month a Republican in Ohio was widely criticized for blaming mass shootings on gay marriage, last month Republicans in the House urged Amazon to keep stocking books that promote anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy, and the Texas GOP wants to allow any professional with a license to deny service to LGBTQ people. But sure, Trump has removed gay rights as a “wedge issue.”
To their (limited) credit, Kabel and Homan do say that they oppose the ban on transgender military service and will “press the administration to reconsider.”
But one has to ask, in 40 years of “working for change” in the GOP — only to see Republicans consistently attempt to roll back LGBTQ rights and protections at the federal and state level — just how effective will that pressing to reconsider be?
In perhaps the most laughable part of the whole endorsement, Kabel and Homan write, “we know that ‘Inclusion Wins’ is a mantra we share with the president.”
This about a man who has mocked disabled people, called Mexicans rapists, told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” where they came from, said African and central American nations were “shithole countries,” argued that there were “very fine people” marching with white supremacists, who called Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters an “extraordinarily low IQ person,” and who mocked Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings after a break-in at his home.
What about any of that suggests “Inclusion”?
For Log Cabin Republicans to endorse four more years of a Trump presidency — one that removes protections for LGBTQ people, that enables religious-based discrimination, that stocks itself with anti-LGBTQ bigots — is an affront to the millions of LGBTQ people who have and will suffer at the hands of this administration.
For an LGBTQ organization that touts its support for “fairness, freedom, and equality for all Americans,” they’re doing a seriously shitty job.
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