July 5, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Gay GOP groups criticize Steele for Afghanistan remarks

Gay Republican groups are joining the chorus of conservatives expressing disappointment in Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele for recent remarks that were critical of operations in Afghanistan.

Steele drew fire from many within his own party after expressing skepticism regarding operations in Afghanistan during a fundraiser in Connecticut.

“This was a war of Obama’s choosing,” Steele was quoted as saying by the Huffington Post. “This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

Steele also suggested U.S. efforts in Afghanistan wouldn’t be successful when he reportedly said “one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan … because everyone who’s tried over a thousand years of history has failed.”

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, said conservatives have “just lost all confidence” in Steele and went so far as to issue a statement last week calling for the RNC chair to resign.

LaSalvia told the Blade his disappointment with Steele is not simply the result of his Afghanistan remarks but his approach to Republican Party leadership.

“I think that if you look at the totality of his tenure at the RNC, there’s been one thing after another,” LaSalvia said. “This election cycle is just too important to go through with somebody at the helm of the RNC who doesn’t have the confidence of conservatives and members of his party.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans and Iraq war veteran, said Steele’s comments were “unwise and untimely.”

“I would say his comments are unfortunate and disappointing,” he added.

Cooper declined to comment on whether he thinks Steele should resign from his position as RNC chair, but said “many people are unhappy with comments, so that’s pretty universal.”

In a statement last week issed by the RNC, Steele clarified his statements, saying “there is no question that America must win the war on terror” and “winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task.”

“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan,” Steele said in a statement. “Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy.”

The RNC couldn’t immediately be reached to comment on the criticism from GOProud and Log Cabin.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

4 Comments
  • Jimmy LaSalvia and GOProud have truly lost sight of reality. The GOP is the enemy of the LGBT community and will never be the answer to our problems. Why should anyone be surprised by the comments of GOP chaiman Michael Steele, we all know he is a right-wing bigot, why do they bother with these people? GOProud is even too extreme for the Log Cabin Republicans, and God knows they have taken enough of the Republican’s crap over the years.

  • I concur with Tim. Republicans do not want gays as supporters, let alone as party members. If Republicans were given free rein to do as they wish, they would persecute homosexuals, made their lives extremely difficult, and made it impossible for them to earn a living.

  • Greed = Gay Republicans

    Why else would an honest gay person identify as Republican?

    It is either money or a big ole closet door.

    Either way doesn’t say much for your character.

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