January 19, 2017 at 10:00 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay Republicans optimistic about Trump presidency
LGBT Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade, gay Republican

Robert Kabel, a gay member of the RNC from D.C., said he is hopeful that Donald Trump would not repeal the pro-LGBT executive orders issued by President Obama. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

On the eve of President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, gay Republican activists from D.C., Florida, and Nevada told the Washington Blade they expect LGBT people will benefit from the incoming Trump administration on a wide range of issues.

The activists, including Robert Kabel, the gay member of the Republican National Committee from D.C., said they were hopeful that Trump would not repeal the LGBT supportive executive orders issued by President Obama.

“I’m very hopeful,” Kabel said. “If you go all the way back to 2004 when George W. Bush had proposed a constitutional amendment [to ban same-sex] marriage to today, where the Supreme Court has ruled and President-elect Trump has said that’s settled law, that’s an enormous change,” he said.

Concerning Trump’s positions on other LGBT issues, Kabel said he believes the Trump White House will be open to input from groups like Log Cabin Republicans, the national gay GOP group that says it has met with members of Trump’s transition team.

“He talked about gays in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention,” said Kabel. “In the last couple of weeks I heard him say at least once in an interview that the Supreme Court decision on marriage is settled law. And in his book, that’s the end of it.”

Gay Republican activist James Driscoll of Nevada, who emerged as a Trump supporter during the Republican primaries in early 2016, said he too was optimistic that Trump’s support on LGBT issues would take precedent over other Republican Party leaders who are not supportive on those issues.

“For gay people this should be a time of hope and celebration,” said Driscoll. “We have the most pro-gay Democratic president ever, Obama, succeeded by the most pro-gay Republican president, Trump. What’s not to like about that?”

But Driscoll said Trump would have a challenge in overcoming the lack of support he received from LGBT voters as shown in election exit polls last November.

“To change that, Trump will need to build a cadre of effective and respected gay Republican thought leaders,” Driscoll told the Blade. “Peter Thiel is great, but he is not enough. Appointments, and much more outreach are necessary to build a Republican political infrastructure among LGBT’s that approaches even the Republicans’ all too limited infrastructure in the black and Hispanic communities.”

Jose Cunningham, the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Party, said Trump’s home base of New York City has given him an awareness of the nation’s large urban centers where many LGBT people live.

“I think as LGBT residents in Washington, D.C., we’re going to benefit as are other big cities’ LGBT communities from his infrastructure plan,” Cunningham said. “Quite frankly we know that roads and bridges and the other infrastructure needs are going to be important to him and that’s going to help us.”

Cunningham, who won unanimous re-election to his post as D.C. GOP party chair last week, said Trump and his campaign team worked behind the scenes to “water down” the anti-gay language in the GOP platform that emerged from the Republican Convention.

Jill Homan, the lesbian Republican Committeewoman from D.C. and a small business owner, said she believes many in the LGBT community are interested in issues like tax reform, school and educational reform, and school choice that she noted Trump stressed during his election campaign.

“When you say LGBT issues I think it’s broader than one particular issue like same-sex marriage,” Homan said. “We have families,” she said. “In fact, my family has a wide range of issues that includes issues that benefit small businesses, tax reform and education. Those are issues that are very impactful for our community and I think he’s going to be really terrific on those issues.”

Chris Allen, president of the D.C. Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, said he’s optimistic that Trump’s role as a businessman has brought him in contact with LGBT people in a positive way.

“Throughout Trump’s long business career, he has worked with numerous people from the LGBT community, attended same-sex weddings, made donations to AIDS charities and organizations, and has enforced nondiscrimination policies within his businesses,” Allen said.

“I think there are many areas where Trump’s bottom-line, business thinking will result in wins for the LGBT community,” Allen said.

Gene Sides, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Broward County, Fla., which includes the Ft. Lauderdale area, said he is pleased with the people Trump has been appointing to high-level positions in his administration.

In a statement released earlier this month, Sides said the Trump appointees represent a “professional and demographic diversity” that would benefit his administration. His statement did not address concerns raised by LGBT activists that many of Trump’s appointees have records opposing LGBT rights.

“Frankly, I am excited by the personnel choices being made by President-elect Trump and believe he is surrounding himself with team members who know how to make things happen,” Sides said. “Good luck to them!”

Gregory T. Angelo, president of the national Log Cabin Republicans, said his organization has had an ongoing dialogue with the Trump transition team on LGBT and other issues, a development, he said, that gives him optimism that the Trump administration will be sympathetic on LGBT issues.

“We’re taking nothing for granted,” he said. “One of our first priorities is preservation of the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. And in support of that effort we submitted a white paper to the Trump transition team yesterday [Jan. 18] at their request outlining the reasons why preserving non-discrimination protections via the nation’s executive office is not only important but necessary and right for America,” Angelo told the Blade.

Asked whether Log Cabin has learned of plans by Trump to rescind the non-discrimination executive order on LGBT federal workers and another one issued by President Obama banning anti-LGBT employment discrimination by federal contractors, he said he wasn’t aware of anything specific.

“As I believe you know, during the campaign Mr. Trump stated he would rescind all of President Obama’s ‘unconstitutional’ executive orders on day one,” Angelo said, adding that this was why Log Cabin is pushing for retaining the LGBT-related executive orders.

“I would just add that Log Cabin Republicans is the only LGBT advocacy organization that is committed to working with Donald Trump that has been invited to advise the president on LGBT issues and that has an ongoing dialogue with his transition team and the incoming administration,” Angelo said.

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

23 Comments
  • If he is so pro-Gay, then why does he try to appoint admitted homophobes Sessions, Carson, Devos, etc.-Gay Republicans-wake up and get your head out of the sand-he is using you and so is the Republican party-they are mostly a party of right-wing religious fanatics, morons, uneducated midwesterners-I as a Bay Area person would never feel comfortable among them. Gay Republicans are an outright lie and outrage to the Gay community!

    • Just remember, bitter little loudmouth cockgobblers like you are the real reason their is anti gay discrimination

    • That’s a negative stereotype… it doesn’t matter your skin color, sexual orientation, religion, or personal beliefs. If you are a republican you will be accepted into the Republican Community. Sure there are rude republicans but there are good ones too. Just as there are good and bad democrats. In the end we are all American and we all want the best for our country.

      • You are so naive it is about ideology friend and Republicans are not committed to our safety rights or prosperity in an way shape or form! Period!

        • I’m a conservative republican and I support any member of the Republican Party regardless of their backgrounds and I support LGBTQ republicans. Please don’t view the entire party as bigoted because we are people just like you and we understand love no matter what orientation you are. Sure there are intolerant republicans but there are also tolerant ones too. We are people and there are stereotypes that are somewhat true but just know there are others who care about your beliefs and respect you.

          • You are ridiculous and obviously know little about gay history/culture. Repubs are fine with gays for our money and support as long as we stay in the closet. Or give in to electro shock therapy. Harvey Milk was a Democrat!

        • I’ll let you in on a little secret… neither are democrats. They make these claims to get your votes and say they will protect you but so would republicans for you are an American citizen and we will defend your rights. Stop being so close minded and judgmental. I thought that’s what liberals resented? You claim to be accepting and non discriminatory but look at yourself. You are discriminating an entire party for the doings of the few. You are TRYING to create an issue with the Republican Party by claiming we are the problem. We are just as accepting as anyone else. Sure some people in our party are hostile towards gays but a lot support your cause too and not for money or votes but because we believe every human being has a right to love. You are being brainwashed by your democratic leaders and mass media to believe we hate you in order for them to gain your vote. They are manipulating you and that is wrong. maybe you should get to know the Republican Party a little better before you make biased comments about us. If we are so against the LGBTQ community then why are we continuing to support and protect your rights even though republicans already have full control of the White House? We don’t need your money or votes anymore but we will protect your rights. Just be open minded about groups is all I’m asking, don’t be corrupted by others.

  • Quoted from your article: “Throughout Trump’s long business career, he has worked with numerous people from the LGBT community, attended same-sex weddings, made donations to AIDS charities and organizations, and has enforced nondiscrimination policies within his businesses,” Allen said.

    I’m sure we will see this in his tax returns because he hasn’t ever misled anyone on how much he has contributed to veterans groups, his own foundation, etc. Oh wait,…

    Additionally, from your article: In a statement released earlier this month, Sides said the Trump appointees represent a “professional and demographic diversity” that would benefit his administration. His statement did not address concerns raised by LGBT activists that many of Trump’s appointees have records opposing LGBT rights.

    So the addition of a running mate that supports “shock therapy” and the “arrest for the application of a same-sex marriage in Indiana” are professional and the others aren’t appointees that we should be concerned about?

  • Hey Bob, haven’t you heard? Hope leaves the White House tomorrow at noon. Despair will be there in time for dinner. The good news for you is that as you bow down to the golden idol, the rest of us will be here fighting to preserve your rights saving you and the rest of your LCR brethren from yourselves.

  • When Donald Trump says he will appoint to the judiciary the likes of a William Pryor (who has written in defense of a state’s legal ability to criminalize people on the basis of sexual orientation) then how how can any rational person conclude Donald Trump is a friend to gay men and women? When a politician publicly commits himself to harming me I take that threat seriously.

    Donald Trump is not a friend to gay people. In fact, he is an enemy.

  • I just received an e-mail from Lambda Legal that included: “Within minutes of Donald Trump’s inauguration, his administration removed all mention of LGBT people from the White House website.
    Selected LGBT-related documents have disappeared from the Department of Labor website.
    The Office of National AIDS Policy appears to have been closed, and its webpage has been disabled.”

  • If he is so sure about Trump why does the GOP discriminate in its platform every 4 years. Why do republicans despritly introduce bill after bill allowing religious discrimination?

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