September 23, 2016 at 9:15 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Log Cabin rejects Trump endorsement
Donald Trump, gay news, Washington Blade, Log Cabin Republicans

The D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans voted not to recommend the national organization endorse Donald Trump. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Members of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans on Wednesday voted against recommending that the national Log Cabin organization endorse Donald Trump for president.

The vote, by a margin of 56 percent against an endorsement to 44 percent in favor, followed a lively discussion on the issue, with some members arguing that it would be in the best interests of the LGBT Republican group to back their party’s presidential nominee.

Under Log Cabin Republicans’ bylaws, local chapters are not authorized to endorse presidential candidates but instead are called on to make a recommendation on whether the D.C.-based national group should do so.

Andrew Desser, a member of D.C. Log Cabin’s board of directors, told the gathering that he was a strong supporter of GOP presidential candidate John Kasich during the Republican primaries. He said he initially was among the eight D.C. Log Cabin board members to vote unanimously in August against recommending a Trump endorsement.

He said he has since changed his mind and urged fellow club members to vote for a Trump endorsement on pragmatic grounds.

“Just to be clear, what I say tonight is not a personal endorsement,” he said. “This is not necessarily Andrew Desser endorsing Donald Trump, but rather I’m recommending as a board member what I think is the best route for us to take as a club, as an organization, as a chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, which I care about tremendously.”

Desser and club members Daniel Couladis and Joe Brookman argued that Trump has emerged as the strongest GOP presidential candidate ever on LGBT issues. They expressed concern that if Trump were to win without a Log Cabin endorsement the group would likely not have as much access and influence in a Trump administration as they would if they make an endorsement.

“Is Donald Trump my champion of conservatism?” asked Couladis. “Absolutely not,” he said. “But we have a lot to lose if the liberals get four more years of putting their claws in all aspects of our society.”

Club member Rek LeCounte, who opposed endorsing Trump, argued that Trump is not a true conservative, saying he would abandon conservative principles that Log Cabin has embraced since its founding.

“We stand for conservative principles that go far beyond LGBT issues,” LeConte said. “If we say that although Donald Trump is great on LGBT issues but because he is not in any way an acceptable vehicle for conservatism and we will oppose him because we are conservatives – I think we will get a lot more powerful and enduring respect from folks who will inherit the Republican Party if we take a principled stand now.”

Lesbian activist Casey Pick, a longtime club member and former national Log Cabin staffer, said she takes strong exception to people advising the club to endorse Trump, among other reasons, because he has a reputation of retaliating against those he views as being against him.

“I spent enough time lobbying against bullies and bullying that the idea of making my decision because I don’t want the biggest bully on the block to see me?” she told fellow members. “That’s not the way I want to make a decision.”

Pick urged the club to stand with prominent Republicans in Congress who have been Log Cabin allies that have declined to endorse Trump.

“Senator Susan Collins [R-Maine], Senator Mark Kirk [R-Ill.], and a dozen members of the House of Representatives have taken the courageous stand to say no, we don’t want to endorse Donald Trump,” said Pick. “He’s not fit to represent our party. He doesn’t represent our values.”

Pick also said lesbian Republicans, like many Republican women, are turned off by Trump’s longstanding reputation of being “misogynistic” and “repugnant” to many women.

“I was very happy to have several different members speak for and against endorsing,” said Chris Allen, president of D.C. Log Cabin. “And I hope the national board takes our chapter’s recommendation into consideration.”

Among those attending the meeting and listening to the discussion was Gregory Angelo, executive director of the national Log Cabin Republicans.

Angelo, who has not taken sides on the endorsement question, said the action by the D.C. chapter is being viewed as part of a national survey of the group’s chapters.

“The clubs govern themselves in this regard,” he said. “I want to solicit their opinion and this is one instance where we’re soliciting a club’s opinion.”

He said the fact that the national group has not made an endorsement decision with just over a month left before the Nov. 8 presidential election would not in any way detract from the significance and the impact of the decision when it’s made.

“Whether we do endorse or whether we don’t, it will have significance,” he said, noting that the group’s endorsements of GOP presidential candidates in past years have been reported by the national media.

In separate business, D.C. Log Cabin Republicans  voted to endorse Republican Carolina Celnik for one of the two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election in November. The club also voted to endorse Ashly Carter for the at-large D.C. Board of Education seat on the ballot in November.

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

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