Gay Republican group's executive director resigns after Trump endorsement

Jerri Ann Henry’s departure from the Log Cabin Republicans is the latest among several high-profile defections.
By Gwen Aviles

The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans is the latest official to resign from the conservative LGBTQ group after it recently endorsed President Donald Trump for re-election.

Less than a year after after she became the first woman to lead the group, Jerri Ann Henry, a lesbian activist who fought for the legalization of same-sex marriage within the Republican Party, told NBC News that she would not be issuing a statement regarding her resignation. But former Log Cabin members say her departure further exemplifies factions within the group.

“To see her leave really shows how serious of a blow the organization has taken,” said Jordan Evans, town constable of Charlton, Massachusetts, and the first openly transgender Republican elected official in the U.S. “Jerri Ann was brought on to bring the group to a new direction, so that’s really telling.”

Evans announced her own departure from the Log Cabin Republicans last Monday in a scathing op-ed for LGBTQ magazine The Advocate. Jennifer Horn, a former board member, and Robert Turner, the former president of the group's Washington, D.C., chapter, also denounced the Trump endorsement and left the group last week.

Notably, Henry’s name did not appear alongside those of board members Robert Kabel and Jill Homan in a Washington Post Op-Ed this month announcing the group's endorsement of Trump. The Log Cabin Republicans declined to endorse Trump in 2016.

In the endorsement, Kabel and Homan cited Trump’s commitment to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years, which was met both with 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 LGBTQ community.

Prior to Henry's resignation, Casey Pick, who served as the programs director for the Log Cabin Republicans from 2010 to 2013, wrote in a Facebook post that even though she began distancing herself from the group after the 2012 election, she decided to give it another chance after Henry was brought on board as executive director.

“I was hopeful that despite watching the organization’s slide toward Trump apologism under Gregory T. Angelo (the group’s former president), their hiring a skilled and principled operative like Henry meant the organization would finally be able to again be a conscience this party needs,” Pick wrote on Aug. 15, the same day the group endorsed Trump. “I publicly celebrated her hiring, and encouraged my peers in the LGBT advocacy community to give LCR another shot, knowing that a vibrant and effective Log Cabin could be a godsend during a Trump/Pence administration.”

Yet, Pick said, Henry’s “hands have been tied” and instead of espousing a progressive mission, the group “increasingly fulfills the stereotypes that used to be hurled at Log Cabin Republicans: overwhelmingly gay men who are indifferent to the experiences of women, transgender Americans or LGBT people who lack the financial or social resources to protect them from the discrimination that they so often deny even exists.”

"Don't call me a Log Cabin Republican," she wrote at the conclusion of her post.

Despite the backlash to the Trump endorsement, Charles Moran, the group’s national spokesperson, told NBC News the group has no plans to rescind its support for the president as it was a “universal decision” determined by the board of directors and chapters.

When asked whether Henry was involved in the endorsement decision, Moran said he “could not speak to that” as he was not on the phone call during her resignation but that he and the board “thank her for her service to the Log Cabin Republicans.”

Henry’s departure comes just weeks before the group’s Sept. 17 Spirit of Lincoln reception in D.C. The annual event has typically included a dinner and reception featuring high-profile Republican attendees, but this year there will only be a reception.

“We’re seeing a lot of what I thought would happen: A lot of prominent leaders are leaving the group,” Evans told NBC News. “We need a Republican group that advocates for LGBTQ issues, but the Log Cabin Republicans have sent the message that this is not their priority.”

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