March 13, 2016 at 7:40 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Two gays, lesbian elected as delegates at D.C. GOP convention

Christian Berle (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Christian Berle (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Two gay men and one lesbian won election Saturday as delegates to the Republican National Convention during a D.C. Republican Party convention that also served as the city’s GOP presidential primary.

Lesbian GOP activist Rachael Hoff won as a delegate candidate supporting U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio beat Ohio Gov. John Kasich by a margin of 37.30 percent to 36.54 percent in a hotly contested D.C. presidential preference primary held at the Loews Madison Hotel.

Gay Republican activist Christian Berle, who ran as a delegate candidate committed to Kasich, and gay GOP activist Tim Costa, who ran as a Rubio supporter, also won one of the 16 elected delegate positions allocated to D.C.

According to the D.C. Republican officials, the three won in a delegate election in which 2,839 registered Republicans turned out for the combined presidential primary and delegate election.

In a development considered unique to D.C., the three top Republican leaders in the city — D.C. GOP Chair Jose Cunningham, D.C. Republican National Committeeman Robert Kabel, and D.C. Republican National Committeewoman Jill Homan – are gay or lesbian. Under Republican Party rules, they become automatic delegates.

That brings D.C.’s ‘gay’ contingent to the Republican National Convention in July to six out of a total of 19 delegates.

“We’re going to have an incredibly diverse number of delegates and alternate delegates going to Cleveland,” said Cunningham.

Homan said the large turnout of registered Republican voters, which resulted in a line extending outside the hotel and into the street, exceeded all expectations for the event. Cunningham told the Washington Blade that voters waited two hours to cast their ballots.

“We’re just thrilled by the participation of everyone and we want to just congratulate Senator Rubio for his win and also Governor Kasich for his strong performance as well,” said Homan.

Under D.C. Republican Party rules, delegates are only awarded to presidential candidates who receive a threshold of 15 percent or greater in the presidential preference vote. That means controversial presidential contender Donald Trump, who received 13.77 percent of the vote in the D.C. primary, will not receive any delegates from D.C.

Cunningham and Patrick Mara, executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee, said the city’s delegate contingent will be almost evenly split between Rubio and Kasich, with Rubio expected to receive just one or two more delegates than Kasich. The official allocation of the delegates was to be decided in the next few days, Mara told the Blade.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who also competed in the D.C. primary, came in fourth place with 12.36 percent of the vote.

Former GOP presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Ben Carson also appeared on the D.C. GOP primary ballot because their campaigns didn’t officially request that their names be removed, according to Cunningham. Each received less than one percent of the vote.

A slate of six gay Republican members of the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans organization, including national Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo, lost their races for delegate in Saturday’s D.C. GOP convention. All six ran as uncommitted delegate candidates, a factor that Cunningham and Mara said appears to have placed them at a disadvantage.

“The message that we came away with today is the overwhelming majority of people who turned out were committed to a candidate,” Mara said.

Others who attended the convention said another message that came across loud and clear was the majority of participants were strongly against Trump, and they most likely voted for delegate candidates committed to either Rubio or Kasich rather than for uncommitted delegate candidates.

Chris Allen, president of the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, who was among the six Log Cabin members who ran uncommitted, said the Log Cabin candidates, among other things, were committed to advocating at the GOP national convention for removing anti-LGBT provisions currently in the Republican Party platform. He said he expects the six-member gay contingent from D.C. will push for removing those provisions.

Mara said the D.C. Republican Committee, which organized Sunday’s primary and delegate election, would not be releasing the vote counts for the 160 candidates that competed for delegate positions.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Ironic when any sane person would understand Mr New York values Trump is the most pro gay rights candidate of the four. The Never Trump movement is really the never ending wars in the Middle East movement being pushed by the sore loser bushys.

  • Congratulations and well done!

    A tip for your celebration: Tip generously for good service. Thank you.

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