It would be difficult to envision a president with a more virulent and toxically anti-LGBTQ agenda than Donald Trump. Yet on August 16, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s foremost gay conservative group, endorsed Trump for president in 2020. In 2016 they refused to endorse him.
The very concept of LGBTQ people for Trump is shocking. He has attacked queer and trans people repeatedly. On the same day Log Cabin endorsed him, Trump proposed a religious freedom rule that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ employees based on an employer’s religious beliefs. The Trump DOJ has filed briefs in discrimination cases against gay and trans people that will be heard by the Supreme Court in October. Those briefs intend to vitiate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act with regard to gay and trans people and could be precedent setting.
Even among staunch white cisgender straight men that comprise the vast majority of the Republican Party, there is a phalanx of #NeverTrump folks for whom most of the awfulness of the GOP has been acceptable forever. But even for them, the nouveau-rich, dyed-hair, spray-tanned, pussy-grabbing vulgarity of Trump is a bridge too far.
The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Trump in an op-ed in the Washington Post written by chairman Robert Kabel and vice chairwoman Jill Homan. The piece is headlined: "Trump met his commitments to LGBTQ Americans. He has our endorsement."
The headline is as delusional as the Log Cabin argument.
Kabel and Homan inexplicably position Trump against anti-gay Republican Pat Buchanan, a former Nixon speechwriter, who ran for president several times.
According to Kabel and Homan, Trump exemplifies how the Republican Party has expanded its views on LGBTQ people since Buchanan’s last attempted run in 2000.
The duo proclaimed the speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention by widely reviled financier Peter Thiel was a turning point. Thiel was the first out gay person ever allowed to speak at an RNC. The billionaire said, "I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American."
Kabel and Homan said the moment was "extraordinarily uplifting," writing, "This is the party that Trump has helped make possible by moving past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, in particular by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook."
Some would call this argument specious, others purposefully deceptive. Trump has ratcheted up the culture wars on every front, from declaring there is "post-birth abortion" to arguing against the Equality Act on behalf of his evangelical base.
During the election, Trump promised to be better than Hillary Clinton on queer issues. But as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was the highest ranked global official ever to speak out about human rights for gay people in an historic speech in Geneva in 2011. In that speech she proclaimed "gay rights are human rights" and urged adoption of policies protecting gays and lesbians from civil rights and other abuses globally.
Clinton also revised State Department policy to facilitate lesbian and gay parents and trans persons in obtaining passports. She was the first presidential nominee in history to have an openly gay person as her campaign manager.
Kabel and Homan said its national board of directors made the decision to endorse Trump after consulting with its chapters across the country. They cited Trump’s commitment to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years and claimed Trump is working to get other countries to conform to human rights standards — standards Secretary Clinton had set in 2011 in Geneva — with regard to LGBTQ people.
The op-ed claims "The president’s tax cuts have benefited LGBTQ families and helped put food on their tables," but the 2017 GOP tax cuts only benefited the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans and corporations. By including revocation of the Affordable Care Act mandate, it also increased healthcare premiums for millions and made it harder for people with HIV/AIDS to access healthcare.
Kabel and Homan’s sole criticism is tepid: "We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider."
Log Cabin board member Jennifer Horn resigned in protest. "There is no world where I can sit down at the dining room table and explain to my children that I just endorsed Donald Trump for president," Horn said, in an August 19 op-ed in the Washington Post. She wrote that she did not vote for Trump in 2016: "It was the first time in my life that I have not voted for the Republican nominee."
Trump asserted in a meeting with the press on August 20 that he was "very honored" to receive the endorsement and claimed, "I’ve done very well with that community. Some of my biggest supporters are of that community....I think I’ve done really very well with them."
Log Cabin Republicans have always represented a largely privileged group. Kabel and Homan’s tacit ignoring of Trump’s harmful actions against LGBTQ people is both insulting and dangerous. Trump is already using their endorsement to deflect from his damaging anti-LGBTQ policies.
Kabel and Homan write, "To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan, 80 percent my friend is not 20 percent my enemy."
When hate crimes against LGBTQ people are up exponentially under Trump, when LGBTQ people are denied legal recourse and even medical care because of Trump’s homophobic and transphobic policies, maybe that 20 percent is indeed the enemy. And maybe the Log Cabin Republicans are as well.