Admittedly, the Log Cabin Republicans constitute a minority within an already small, underrepresented group. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore bad, negligent behavior from within our own ranks.
One month out from the election and Log Cabin still hasn’t said whether it plans to endorse GOP nominee Donald Trump. The failure to do so initially held promise the group would do the right thing; its continued effort to play coy with such an important decision has become a de facto endorsement and constitutes dereliction of duty.
It’s unconscionable that any LGBT person could endorse and vote for Trump given his shocking record of racism and misogyny, the incidences of which are too numerous to recount here. If, somehow, you’re gay and able to look the other way when a candidate deploys racist tactics to win the votes of deplorable voters, then how about worrying about your own rights and self-interests? Trump’s selection of Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate was all the evidence we needed that anti-LGBT bigotry is alive and well in 2016’s GOP. Pence signed an overtly discriminatory “religious freedom” law in Indiana, provoking a national backlash that forced him to sign a so-called “fix” to the measure. But make no mistake that Pence’s instinct was to codify anti-LGBT discrimination into state law.
Trump himself hasn’t said much about LGBT rights during the campaign, but the few clues we have about his views indicate that the past eight years of LGBT advances are on the line if he wins the White House.
Just this week, he mocked the acceptance of openly trans service members in the military as “political correctness.” Does that mean that a President Trump would seek to reinstate some form of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” When Congress repealed the law, it left nothing in place to formally bar discrimination in the armed forces. Given that we now have an openly gay Army secretary, that would likely be an uphill battle, but do we really want to risk such a fight?
On domestic policy, Trump has promised to rescind President Obama’s various executive orders that were only necessitated by a GOP Congress unwilling to do anything Obama wants. Those orders include a key provision barring companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The order effectively protects an estimated 20 percent of all American workers from anti-LGBT workplace discrimination. Trump has also pledged support for a federal “religious freedom” law that would legalize anti-LGBT discrimination across the country.
More concerning is the imprint a President Trump could leave on the Supreme Court. On day one, the next president must fill the Antonin Scalia vacancy; several more justices are into their 70s and 80s, raising the possibility of multiple picks for the next president. Trump has said he’d choose justices in the mold of Scalia, the most rabidly anti-LGBT justice on the bench. Could Trump stack the court with justices inclined to overturn the Obergefell ruling? Again, an uphill battle that we don’t want to risk fighting.
So where is Log Cabin amid all these threats to recent progress? They’re still hoping for a meeting with Trump that’s been denied for months. Meanwhile, they’re breaking bread with Newt Gingrich of all people, a thrice-married opponent of marriage equality who has a long, sad record hostile to every LGBT rights advance of the last 25 years. When Gingrich spoke at Log Cabin’s recent national dinner, most observers expected some news — an evolution on marriage or non-discrimination perhaps. None of that was in the offing, just more racist fear mongering and trying to pit Muslims against gays. How disappointing that Log Cabin would give a forum to that sort of cynical divisiveness.
Log Cabin’s executive director, Gregory Angelo, is a good guy doing his best in a party now run by a frightening fringe of the GOP that finds support from the KKK. There is precedent for Log Cabin to withhold its endorsement of a Republican presidential nominee as it did when George W. Bush used the marriage issue as a wedge in the 2004 election. Here’s hoping Angelo and the Log Cabin board come to their senses and join the rest of the thinking populace in denouncing Trump’s demagoguery before it’s too late.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.