Gay Republican group endorses Trump in reversal from 2016

While the Log Cabin Republicans are a significant endorsement for Trump, LGBTQ voters are a reliable part of the Democratic base, according to exit polls.
Image: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rainbow flag
Then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rainbow flag given to him by a supporter during a campaign rally at the University of Northern Colorado on Oct. 30, 2016 in Greeley, Colorado.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file
By Gwen Aviles

The Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest collective of LGBTQ conservatives, has officially endorsed the re-election of President Donald Trump — after its board of directors voted against endorsing him in 2016 — stating that Trump has advanced LGBTQ rights and helped the GOP move past “culture wars” during his tenure.

In a Washington Post Op-Ed published on Thursday evening, Robert Kabel, chairman of the group, and Jill Homan, its vice president, wrote that “for LGBTQ Republicans, watching the 2016 GOP convention before Donald Trump was like a dream fulfilled” and marked the beginning of Trump removing gay rights “as a wedge issue from the old Republican handbook” and “taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.”

The group, which announced new board leadership in March, cites Trump’s commitment to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years, which was met both was cautious optimism and flat-out skepticism, and his work with Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany, to encourage other nations to end the criminalization of homosexuality, as examples of his dedication to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

It also states that other Trump policies, which were not specifically delineated as LGBTQ policies, such as his tax cuts, trade deals and “hard line on foreign policy,” have benefited gay Americans.

Though the Log Cabin Republicans are lending their support to Trump, the group said that it does not agree with all of his and his administrations’ actions, including the so-called transgender military ban.

“We are committed to letting all qualified Americans serve in the military,” the Log Cabin Republicans wrote. “We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.”

The Log Cabin Republicans endorsement of Trump comes as it marks a reversal from its 2016 stance.

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The former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, Gregory T. Angelo, has been critical of policies enacted under Trump in the past. Three years ago, he issued a statement against Trump’s election platform, which he called “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history.”

“Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away’ — it’s all in there,” he wrote at the time. “This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either.”

Yet, Angelo appears to have had a change of heart, writing on Twitter Thursday night that the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Trump should have come in 2016.

Not all members of the Log Cabin Republicans agree with the group's assessment of Trump's track record on LGBTQ issues.

Jordan Evans, who became the only openly transgender Republican elected official after she was elected the Town Constable of Charlton, Massachusetts, in 2017, said she was "extremely upset" by the group's endorsement.

"I'm awestruck that they would endorse Trump, given his track record that's been nothing but detrimental to the LGBTQ community," Evans said. "Especially because we have another Republican candidate — Bill Weld — so to not even give him a chance or to wait to make an endorsement until after the RNC convention is unexplainable."

Evans added that the group's endorsement was indicative of the "greater disconnect" between Republicans and LGBTQ individuals and that it would make it harder for the Log Cabin Republicans to collaborate with other queer groups who were already "weary" to work with them.

"We keep falling back on the queer issues of yesterday, but we need to approach this new horizon, which includes fighting for public accommodations and transgender rights," Evans said. "We should be focusing on how we can have an effective voice, not going backwards."

A number of gay Democrats have also disavowed the endorsement.

“Hey @LogCabinGOP, that endorsement seems even more #%** stupid today...,” Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, wrote on Twitter.

“You’re an embarrassment. And a sympathizer for a racist, queerphobic regime,” Jonathan D. Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, wrote in response to a tweet from Richard Walters, the chief of staff for the Republican National Committee, sharing news of the endorsement. “History will always remember where people like you and the @LogCabinGOP stood.”

In addition to the president’s contentious transgender military policy, which bars transgender personnel from serving openly and denies them access to gender-affirming medical care, the Health and Human Services Department proposed a new rule in May suggesting that federal laws banning sex discrimination in health care don’t apply to patients’ “gender identity."

United States citizenship has also been denied to some children of LGBTQ couples, and just this week, the Trump administration unveiled a proposed rule that would greatly expand the exemption that allows religious entities to ignore anti-discrimination laws by broadening the definition to include federal contractors that declare themselves to be religious — a rule that LGBTQ advocates have decried as a license to discriminate.

While the Log Cabin Republicans are a significant endorsement for Trump, LGBTQ voters are a reliable part of the Democratic base, according to exit polls. In the 2018 midterm elections, over 80 percent of LGBTQ people said they voted for the Democrat in their local federal election, while just 17 percent voted for the Republican. And in 2016, 78 percent of LGBTQ voters said they voted for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, while just 14 percent reported supporting Donald Trump.

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