January 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm EST | by Robert Turner
Life beyond marriage equality
Log Cabin Republicans, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

We gay Republicans are here, to the chagrin of the gay left, and annoyance of the Republican radical right. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

There are people both in the Republican Party and in the gay community who strongly believe that gays do not belong in the Grand Old Party.

To my brothers and sisters in the gay community, while the Democratic Party has been much better on equality, when you step away from that string of issues, there is a wealth of policy positions where there is room for discussion and differing opinion.

As Urvashi Vaid says in her book, “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics,” “Beyond a shared basic rights agenda, there is no political unity between progressives and conservatives in the LGBT community.”  This is highlighted on issue after issue with gun control, abortion, immigration, tax, and a panoply of other items that comprise our daily lives.

When you listen to some national gay organizations, they speak of the evils of Republicans. They often imply ALL Republicans. Either they are not mindful that we have a growing number of Republican allies in the House and Senate and around the country who support us on many of our core issues, or they are simply party hacks. It’s OK to be a party hack. I am. Just don’t masquerade as a non-partisan national LGBT organization if that’s what you really are — an operative of the Democratic Party.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would not have been repealed three years ago without the six Republican senators who supported ending the law. Nor would the Senate have passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide employment protections for LGBT individuals in the workplace, without the votes of 10 Republicans.

Fifteen years ago, those votes would have been unheard of. The Republican Party is going through a cultural shift (albeit slowly) as more Republican legislators consistently step up for LGBT Americans. States like New York, Maryland and Illinois bear witness to that.

Conversely, there are those in leadership positions within the Republican Party to whom it is anathema for gays to be in the GOP and, worse yet, that we exist at all. It would be dishonest to say that, for gay Republicans, the last 20 years have been easy.  The ascension of many within the Christian right into the party has often made life rough. That is, however, not a blanket statement.  There are many good people who are part of the Christian right.

The tenor of the marriage equality debate, on both sides of the aisle, has been nasty at times. Within the GOP, it uncovered the fact that there are those who see the party as a closed, inward-looking operation who view defeat in the pursuit of ideological purity as acceptable. The tone of the marriage equality debate by certain members of the GOP fails to recognize that, beyond marriage, there are other issues where the LGBT community can contribute to a winning coalition for Republicans.

What the Democratic Party fails to understand is that families cannot live on love alone. As my counterpart, John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware GOP, often says, the GOP message of education, job creation, and economic growth and less government in our lives, are indeed the Republican Party and speak to many in the LGBT community when hate is not interjected.

Sadly, it’s the David Agemas of the party, with their ecclesiastical rants, who are the squeaky wheel. And it is because of their boisterous noise that the Republican Party is on the brink of shrinking instead of growing.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus has done a great job of starting to reach out to minority groups that have not supported the party in recent elections.  And while he does not have a plank in his Growth and Opportunity Project for gays and lesbians, he shows no malice toward us either.

We simply can’t throw a temper tantrum and leave an organization or a political party when we don’t get our way. That’s what they want.

We persevere. We engage. We listen. And then we continue to change hearts and minds. We gay Republicans are here, to the chagrin of the gay left, and annoyance of the Republican radical right.

Robert Turner is executive director of the D.C. Republican Party and former president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at robert.turner@dcgop.com or @RobertTurnerDC.

  • I could barely move past the headline. The Gay Republicans I’ve known are self-loathing elitists and often times, racist. The “facts” and statistics pointed out in this editorial are moot. The GOP will never gravitate towards the center on social issues and risk isolating their evangelical base or big ticket donors. Do us a favor and think about the struggles of the majority in the LGBT community and the GOP’s total disregard for the poor…or don’t and relish in your capitalistic 1% palace…

  • Good for you for persevering, Mr. Turner, but you don’t appear to be getting much return on your investment (though I’m sure Grindr heats up at Republican conventions). As for Reince Priebus and his outreach to minorities, that brings back thoughts of the GOP post-mortem after 2012, whose recommendations were quickly abandoned. As for Urvashi’s book, look up my review of it; you might enjoy it. Most gay folk are not looking for revolution.

  • Wow. I can’t see why ANYBODY, gay or straight, would want to be a republican now. They are anti-everything. Anti-LGBT, anti-environment, anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-minority and anti-immigrant. They represent the 1% and little else. If you believe otherwise I think you’re delusional. I grew up in a republican household back in the 60’s and 70’s and the GOP of today bears no resemblance to the party I knew then. They use fear-mongering, lies, half-truths and distortion in lieu of having an actual party platform. Open your eyes Bob.

  • “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would not have been repealed three years ago WITH REPUBLICANS IN CONTROL OF EITHER HOUSE OF CONGRESS. Nor would the Senate have passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act WITH REPUBLICANS IN CONTROL OF THE SENATE, AND THEIR CONTROL OF THE HOUSE IS WHY IT IS DEAD THERE NOW. Both measures would have progressed just as well with pro-gay Democrats in these seats of those unreliable moderate Republicans who deigned to vote for a pro-gay measure while also voting in every Congress to hand control of the agenda to anti-gay leaders. Any vote for any Republican member of Congress from any state or district is a vote to give control of Congress to Republican leaders, who have proved that they will kill any significant gay rights measure they can whenever they can get away with it. Recent efforts include trying to kill the gay-inclusive Violence Against Women Act and demanding the exclusion of permanent partners language from the immigration reform bill. Let us also never forget who chose to defend the constitutionality of DOMA–House Republicans–and who chose to side with equality–Senate Democrats and the Democratic President.

    Speaking of the presidency, when the time came for the most important decision we make as voters–the selection of a president–Robert Turner and the Log Cabin Republicans chose to stand with the very anti-gay religious bigots he now purports to criticize, and they chose to stand with those bigots AGAINST the rest of the gay community. When Romney crossed the one absolute line in the sand that our community had drawn–by endorsing even the repellent federal marriage amendment–Robert Turner and the Log Cabin Republicans got a whiff of potential personal access and privilege from a Romney presidency, so they promptly ripped out the spine they had finally grown in 2004 and fell all over themselves to endorse Romney anyway–racing across our line in the sand and betraying everyone else in the gay community in the process. That's the history. It's not going away.

    Had Robert Turner and the Log Cabin Republicans gotten their way, President Romney would have ordered the Justice Department to immediately and vigorously defend DOMA in the Supreme Court against Edie Windsor and would have vigorously supported the bigots seeking to preserve Prop. 8. Had the Supreme Court struck down DOMA anyway, the President Romney that Robert Turner and the Log Cabin Republicans wanted would presently be engaged in the very same scorched-earth massive resistance to marriage rights at the federal level as Governor Romney undertook against marriage rights at the state level in Massachusetts. And they either understand that, or they are deluded fools.

    Robert Turner and the Log Cabin Republicans chose to throw away every bit of intra-community credibility and good will, which they had spent years amassing, by stabbing us all in the back in 2012. He and they have proved that they can't be trusted and are unworthy of further consideration. I don't care to ever hear another whine or peep from any of them. Let them go perform like idiots, jesters, and clowns for Mitt Romney, and pretend he's their anti-gay president.

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