April 5, 2012 at 9:10 am EDT | by WBadmin
Parallels between GOP and LGBT rights movement

Robert Turner is president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at robert.turner@dclogcabin.org or @DCBigPappa on Twitter. Mike Hubbard is a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin. Reach him at mike.hubbard@dclogcabin.org or @mikeahub.


In a recent op-ed penned for the Washington Post titled “A Republican litmus test harms our party,” four former prominent Republican senators — William Brock (Tenn.), Jack Danforth (Mo.), Trent Lott (Miss.) and Don Nickles (Okla.) — correctly address a major problem within the Republican Party today. Interestingly enough, their advice to Republicans is something that the queer rights movement would also be wise to heed.

The senators wrote, “Many of these more recent assaults constitute an attempt at a political purge, an effort to remove from the party all but the ‘doctrinally pure,’ however critics define purity. Such efforts would deny all that our party is. We do not have the right to determine who can ‘be’ a Republican on the basis of some litmus test, ever.”

These senators speak about a trend that could marginalize the Republican Party and relegate it to minority, regional or third-party status. As we have stated before, Ronald Reagan’s 80 percent philosophy is vital: the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend rather than a 20 percent enemy. But the litmus test trend is prominent in the gay rights movement, and it can have equally bad effects.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” wasn’t repealed solely through the efforts of Democrats.  Republican senators like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mark Kirk and Scott Brown, among others, were vital in getting that loathsome law repealed. Yet few gay rights groups other than Log Cabin recognized those senators for their support.

Just as too much stock has been put into being a “real” Republican, there has been too much bickering in the gay rights crowd about selling out. There is no one arbiter of who can and cannot call oneself a Republican or gay. There is no agency with which to check as if you were verifying a credit score.

The senators closed their Post piece with this: “Republicans have learned from 150 years of practical experience in elective politics that inclusion, not exclusion, is the winning formula.”

This is the mantra of the Log Cabin Republicans. Inclusion Wins! Log Cabin works to build a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party by promoting the core values of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality of all LGBT Americans. We emphasize that these principles and the moral values on which they stand are consistent with the pursuit of equal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian Americans.

Just as we (obviously) do not want to see the Grand Old Party marginalized, neither do we want to see the gay rights movement hamstrung. But when gay groups put liberalism first and gay rights second, they start making 20 percent enemies.

We realize, of course, that there is tension between LGBT rights advocates and some Republican politicians. We at Log Cabin try our best to support conservative policies that help gay people. And we’re relatively unconcerned about the Republicans: a party that has weathered Watergate and Civil War will endure. But if the gay rights movement gets too closely tied with liberalism, it can get marginalized. And that would be a shame.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Interesting article. But the problem for Log Cabin Republicans will come when they are forced to decide if they will support a Presidential Candidate who has said he is committed to the principles of the National Organization for Marriage.(NOM) One who has signed their pledge and who has donated to their cause. Someone who has said he believes that DOMA is right and that he would like to turn back the repeal of DADT.

    It is fine to support as they claim; limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality of all LGBT Americans. But they will have to deal with what the trade-offs are and how they will justify their support for the eventual Republican nominee. Everyone has to do that Democrats included. We rarely find a a candidate that agrees with all our positions and we support someone based on the entirety of their platform.

    But if an organization is made up of LGBT members like Log Cabin is, one would think that a crucial decision on whether to support a candidate would be their stand on LGBT rights. Not the only one but a big part of it. Otherwise why bother to separate yourself from the rest of the Republican Party with your own organization?

  • Tom

    @Peter Rosenstein has it half-right. The fact is that increasing numbers of us are balancing those issues (“limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets”) with specific gay issues and deciding both that the gay left’s attempts to intertwine LGBT issues and liberal policies is bogus and that the larger general issues often trump community concerns when we’re in the voting booth. It’s a conscious decision, not something overlooked.

  • Rickster

    Sens. Lott and Nickles were too of the most anti-gay U.S. Senators of my lifetime. Reading that they now claim to support an inclusive GOP is laughable.

  • Caleb McLean

    I would suggest that a fundamental flaw in your logic is comparing membership in a political party with a genetic predisposition. Membership in the Republican Party or any political party is a mutually agreed experience. In most cases you have to decide that your political views are similar to the group and then ask for membership in some form such as registration. The act of applying for membership suggests that there can be a denial or future revocation of that membership even if it is never done.

    On the other hand the genetic membership in the gay “community” isn’t one of choice. The very fact that the Log Cabin Republicans and Stonewall Democrats exist suggest the only consensus in this group is some level of attraction to the same gender. There are some that work hard to suggest a ‘community’ within a single point of demographics but like other genetic based communities such as race, hair color, cheekbone height, etc there is no consensus on any political or social discourse of the day. (I’m not going to argue nature vs. nurture. I didn’t chose my orientation and that is the point)

    If those in power of the Republican Party decide they want a more exclusive club then society as a whole will likely fulfill that desire. In many things I tend to hold conservative views as you have mentioned here (limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality for all…) However on that fateful night at the ’88 convention I was told being gay and Republican was incompatible. My choice to leave the party was based on a personal belief that a political party just isn’t that important and certainly not worth my time when I’m told I’m not welcome. If any group shuns its members who do agree with 80% then it will find itself marginalized. The GOP has been headed this way for the last three decades.

    Gay groups will continue to fight for the inalienable human rights that should have been their own in the first place. Until that fight is done, the same groups will continue to argue among themselves about how to approach the fight. I would suggest that all of the approaches have merit and each step forward is a win for everyone. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that the arch of history bends toward justice. Human rights be that of gay and lesbian people or any other demographic are an inevitable result of our march through time. Our duty is to stand up for those rights whenever and however we can.

  • I agree with the writers, to an extent. Such “traditional” Republican values as limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberty are hard to fault–except where it comes to how these values are actually practiced by today’s Republican party. It’s unfortunate we are still stuck in the two-party mentality. As long as we are stuck with it, it would seem to make more sense to work within the Democratic party to work for a government that supports free enterprise, respects individual liberty and expects personal responsibility. The Republican party today is its own worst enemy, never more obviously than during the current presidential campaigns. They are backing themselves ever further into corners–on contraception, immigration, gay equality, etc.–and alienating so many by insisting on talking only about the things that divide us. But even as a Democrat-leaning “unaffiliated” voter, I don’t want to see the “best” of what the Republican party at least used to be about.

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