Log Cabin Republicans this week announced the formation of a new Maryland chapter.
Michael Estève, chapter leader of Log Cabin Republicans of Maryland, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that he is “excited to start” a chapter of the national LGBT Republican organization in the Free State. Estève added he hopes to work with the Maryland Republican Party “to expand the Republican brand” in the state.
Log Cabin Republicans announced the formation of its new Maryland chapter less than two weeks after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan took office.
Hogan during his campaign against then-Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown said his position on marriage rights for same-sex couples has “evolved.” The Republican who was an adviser to former Gov. Bob Ehrlich said he would not seek to repeal Maryland’s gay nuptials law that voters upheld in a 2012 referendum.
Hogan last summer said he does not support the state’s transgender rights statute that then-Gov. Martin O’Malley signed.
“Gov. Hogan represents a new wave of socially moderate GOP leaders who can win in purple and even blue states,” Estève told the Blade. “Voters are tired of having to choose between socially backwards conservatives and traditional tax-and-spend liberals, and the answer to their frustration will be more candidates like Hogan.”
Estève said he has yet to have any direct interactions with Hogan outside of congratulating him during his Inaugural Ball in Baltimore. He nevertheless applauded the governor for introducing what he described to the Blade as the state’s “first structurally balanced budget in years.”
“The Maryland Log Cabin Republicans looks forward to supporting Gov. Hogan’s fiscally sound agenda and good-government initiatives,” said Estève.
Estève dismisses critics of Hogan’s early LGBT rights record
Equality Maryland and Free State Legal Project criticized Hogan in the days immediately after he took office for not including trans-specific language in his first executive order and for delaying the implementation of a regulation that will prohibit state Medicaid providers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
Hogan late last week announced he would allow the regulation to take effect.
The Republican governor has also amended his first executive order to include gender identity.
“He made clear he would delay the previous administration’s 11th-hour regulations until they had time to be reviewed in the public eye,” Estève told the Blade, referring to the state Medicaid regulation. “This was not news to anyone except partisans who wanted to make it an issue. They made absurd claims about Hogan’s social positions during the race, and it looks like their partisan attacks will continue into his governorship.”
Estève also responded to the Blade’s questions about Hogan’s decision to appoint Blair Lee, a Montgomery County developer who has previously compared homosexuality to pedophilia, to his transition team.
“Lee, a Democrat, opposed marriage equality, as did many Marylanders — and many Maryland Democrats,” said Estève. “In his own words, his vote for Hogan was about jobs and the economy, not social issues. Gov. Hogan and his administration have made clear their support for protecting LGBT persons and their families.”
Log Cabin Republicans has 46 chapters in 24 states and D.C.
In addition to the Maryland chapter, the organization on Monday announced the creation of three additional affiliates in Florida, South Carolina and Texas. Openly gay men are currently the executive directors of the D.C. Republican Committee and the Delaware Republican Party.