Metro Weekly

Donald Trump, Kari Lake Play to the Gays at Log Cabin Republicans’ Gala

Log Cabin Republicans held their annual Spirit of Lincoln dinner at Trumps's Mar-a-Lago estate, where the former President promised to fight for gay rights.

Log Cabin Republicans “Spirit of Lincoln” ad (left); LCR President Charles T. Moran (right) – Photos: Log Cabin Republicans

Playing host to the Log Cabin Republicans’ annual “Spirit of Lincoln” gala at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, President Donald Trump pledged to fight for the gay community, touting his record as president as favorable to the community and celebrating societal progress enjoyed by its members.

“We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard,” Trump, who recently announced his intention to re-seek the presidency in 2024, said in a speech that received a standing ovation from those in attendance, according to Politico.

“With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible,” he added.

The gala, which celebrated progress for the LGBTQ community — including the Respect for Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden just days prior to the event — offered the former president an opportunity to solidify his bona fides among a small, yet often politically and financially powerful group of supporters while contrasting himself with potential rivals for the Republican nomination, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

While Trump did not specifically mention the Respect for Marriage Act in his speech, the Log Cabin Republicans has, since 2016, proven eager to embrace Trump for being the first Republican presidential nominee to support same-sex nuptials before being elected, and to actively campaign for the votes of LGBTQ people.

Trump’s record on LGBTQ rights has been mixed bag. While he’s generally been favorable toward gay and lesbian rights — at least nominally — his administration has been criticized for its hostility to transgender Americans in particular, pushing policies that restrict transgender military service, access to gender-affirming health care, and access to shelters and other facilities matching their gender identity.

Yet at the same time, Trump has also touted his record when it comes to cisgender LGB Americans, taking credit for launching an initiative to encourage other countries to repeal laws criminalizing homosexuality, providing funding for initiatives aimed at combating the spread of HIV, and for appointing Richard Grenell as the Acting Director of National Intelligence, making him the first openly gay cabinet-level member in history. Several speakers, including Grenell, U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, emphasized that record in their speeches, heaping praise on the former president.

Charles Moran, the organization’s president, challenged other Republicans who might seek the party’s nomination in 2024 to say they are willing to support gay rights, like same-sex marriage — a mainstream position both within society at large and among rank-and-file Republicans, according to polling, but not within the ranks of GOP members of Congress. 

“I just heard a Republican candidate for president stand up and say he is willing to fight and I challenge every other Republican to make the same pledge Donald Trump made tonight,” Moran said.

“I’m going to hold all candidates to that same standard,” he added in a later interview. “We’re really at a place now where we’re going to have an open election and there are going to be other Republicans running, and we have a responsibility to look at the entire Republican field.”

The gala was a lighthearted, celebratory atmosphere, with speakers often throwing out jokes or pithy statements that earned applause and laughter from the audience. Trump, at one point, mused about his wife, Melania, joining Grenell for a trip to Beverly Hills, California, last week

“She flew out to California with Ric, and I trusted him 100% with her,” Trump said jokingly.

Lake, a former TV anchor, claimed that “80, 90, 100% of the men in media are gay,” and talked about missing her gay friends in media until realizing that “conservative politics is full of gay men as well.”

“I’ll tell you what, I like [gay men] better because they know how to think right,” she said. 

She also mused that coming out as conservative is harder than coming out as gay, saying that she “had to come out as well” and calling herself “unshackled” when she was able to embrace her conservative values rather than keep her political opinions to herself.

Lake also poked fun at the crowd, earning cackles and laughs from the audience after she commented on the event’s opulent settings.

“Whoever thought it was a good idea to invite 500 gay people into a lavish mansion, 2 pools, and a lot of booze?” she joked. “I think we’re going to need the Secret Service tonight.…I know there’s people in this room who would love to be tackled and frisked by the Secret Service.”

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