Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel has apologized in an email to the committee’s 168 members, saying she should have done a better job communicating about and clarifying the aims of a new outreach initiative aimed at gay voters.
McDaniel, speaking at the “Spirit of Lincoln Gala,” a party held by the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort on Nov. 6, announced the launch of the RNC Pride Coalition, a new outreach initiative formed in partnership with Log Cabin.
The initiative seeks to encourage LGBTQ voters — particularly gays, lesbians, and bisexuals — a group that generally favors Democrats, to switch their allegiance and support Republican candidates seeking office, including those running for Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
In turn, Log Cabin and other LGBTQ conservatives would then serve as “ground troops,” volunteering to help with the Republican Party’s canvassing and outreach efforts in key congressional and U.S. Senate races.
But the announcement of the initiative dismayed fellow Republicans, especially those more closely affiliated with the party’s socially conservative and evangelical wing. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, as well as other Twitter users, balked at the idea of treating people with similar sexual orientations as an interest group, arguing that Republicans are not supposed to use appeals to “identity politics.”
Other Republicans, most prominently Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, demanded McDaniel’s resignation, claiming tolerance of homosexuality — or worse, celebrating it as a trait — undermines the party’s values and would make the Republican Party indistinguishable from Democrats, and thus unpalatable for social conservatives to continue engaging in the political sphere. Perkins also claimed that McDaniel had agreed to launch the gay outreach initiative without consulting other RNC members.
McDaniel’s email was sent a few hours after she hosted a conference call with RNC members intended to reassure them that the party has not changed its stances on major issues such as same-sex marriage, religious freedom, and opposition to nondiscrimination laws without broad, sweeping religious exemptions.
According to the conservative news website Just the News, McDaniel delivered some talking points to support the idea of the RNC Pride Coalition but declined to take questions. She attributed her refusal to take questions to concerns that members of the news media who may have dialed into the call would hear about and report on an ongoing internal debate that should be kept private among members of the GOP.
“I apologize for not taking questions — we were aware of members of the press who received the dial-in information and did not think it was appropriate,” she wrote in the email. “If you have any follow-up questions, please let me know and I will give you a call.
“Also, I want to reiterate that we should have done a better job of communicating this information to you ahead of time and I apologize for any problems this may have caused for you. I never want to put you in a position where you do not have all of the facts, and I am sorry that happened in this situation. We will do better, I promise,” she added.
In her talking points, McDaniel defended the RNC Pride Coalition as part of a comprehensive outreach program within the party to reach out to various religious, racial, and ethnic groups, as well as youth, veterans, and LGBTQ people.
“The RNC hiring this new staffer does not mean we are advocating for ANY policy or RNC platform change on these issues,” she asserted. “As you know, the Platform Committee will meet at the Republican National Convention in 2024 to decide our platform. That Committee is made up of members from each state and territory and elected at the local level. And it certainly doesn’t mean we are trying to make any changes to the core values of our party.
“We are actively committed to fighting the radical left on culture issues and standing up for religious liberty, family values, and Republicans of faith,” McDaniel continues. “We would never, ever organize or communicate with organizations that undermine our values. You have my word on that. The goal of this new outreach is simply to get more voters to vote Republican in 2022. That’s it.”
McDaniel also defended the idea of LGBTQ outreach, noting that the 2020 Trump campaign had a “Trump Pride” coalition, one of more than three dozen that were created with the express purpose of re-electing the president.
“We are simply replicating and continuing the outreach structure set up by the Trump campaign,” McDaniel wrote. “Making further inroads for future elections is important, especially for close races. That is why we are doing this.”
She then pivoted to the party’s outreach efforts designed to engage faith groups, including evangelicals, Catholics, and Jewish people, promising to “build the largest faith outreach coalition the RNC has ever had” and implement state-level faith-based outreach teams focusing on specific races in 2022.
“We need to stay united. The mainstream press, Democrats, and organizations that are opposed to the RNC want nothing more than to divide and weaken us,” she warned. “We are thankful for every legal vote and welcome Americans from all backgrounds, communities, and organizations who understand the wisdom in voting for Republicans and the foundational principles that strengthen our nation.”
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!