Years ago, I reached out to a group called the Log Cabin Republicans to help inform a chapter of a book I was writing dispelling liberal stereotypes about conservatives.
Having been a longtime supporter of gay rights myself, I was not only impressed but inspired by what then-president Patrick Sammon told me:
“I think it’s increasingly important for gay and lesbian conservatives to stay in the Republican Party and work to make it more supportive of gay and lesbian issues,” he said. “As a gay conservative, I don’t believe the government is the answer to every problem,” he said. “This desire for less government intrusion is really consistent with the desire to live our own lives, both gay and straight, as we see fit.”
Here was a group fighting on two fronts for things I deeply cared about: inclusion and conservative economic policy.
I was hooked. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, and one that I was incredibly grateful for. The group warmly embraced me — though I wasn’t gay myself — and I it.
Over the following years, we supported each other. They defended me against charges of apostasy from my own party and charges of intolerance from the left. I happily spoke at LCR events, met with members, wrote of their efforts, and even delivered a question featuring the Log Cabin Republicans on “Jeopardy!”
When it came to imploring my own party to be more accepting of LGBTQ equality, I met with congressional committees, signed on to gay marriage amicus briefs — as did LCR — and told groups like CPAC that if gay conservatives weren’t given a bigger seat at the table, well then I wouldn’t sit at it any longer.
None of this was hard or particularly courageous. In fact it was the opposite — it was natural. Log Cabin Republicans and I were easily aligned. We saw the world in the same way.
When Donald Trump ran for president, I was intrigued by his overtures to the gay community. I had cautious optimism, and I cried when Trump adviser Peter Thiel announced at the RNC, “I’m proud to be gay.”
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But again, I found myself aligned with the LCRs, who still couldn’t endorse Trump for president, citing his support for a discriminatory bill called the First Amendment Defense Act.
So, needless to say, the group’s endorsement of Trump this cycle, announced in a Washington Post op-ed, was more than just a little disorienting. We are not aligned anymore.
Not only has this administration targeted the LGBTQ community — particularly the trans community in ways that feel vicious and mean-spirited — it has also targeted members of nearly every other minority community by way of rhetoric or policy. This is one of the least inclusive presidents in modern history, and that should matter.
But just as disappointing is Trump’s total failure to hew to the group’s other stated mission: fiscal responsibility and limited government. Tax cuts and deregulation are important to conservatives, yes, but they alone aren’t an economic platform. What about Trump’s ballooning of the debt and deficit? His tariffs on American consumers? His trillion-dollar budget? His expansion of the police state? None of this is conservative or responsible.
I spoke with Jerri Ann Henry, the group’s executive director of less than a year, who resigned over the weekend. Hers was just the latest in a string of high-profile defections.
“Log Cabin was once a civil rights organization with conservative principles,” she told me. “That’s why I joined on. Now it’s mostly about happy hours.”
And, like many other conservative projects these days, it’s also, apparently, about Trump. That’s disappointing.
I don’t begrudge gay conservatives who support Trump at all. To each his own. But I do begrudge a group that says it supports LGBT rights and conservative ideals, and endorses a man who has shown an intolerance for both.
But my personal feelings about the LCR endorsement aren’t the point. Not at all. What’s truly dangerous is that Trump will weaponize that endorsement against the very group of people groups like this are meant to protect. He already has. When a reporter asked about the Trump administration’s support for discriminatory policies, he boasted of the LCR endorsement like it was a get-out-of-jail-free card.
LCR’s decision to endorse a president who is neither inclusive nor conservative cheapens and weakens the important mission they once had. But then again, Trump often has that effect.