Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), the only African-American Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, praised the LGBT GOP group Log Cabin Republicans and its work on behalf of LGBT rights at a June 20 Pride Social gathering organized by Log Cabin Republicans of D.C.
Close to 70 people turned out for the gathering at the Chastleton Apartments ballroom on 16th Street, N.W., which Log Cabin D.C. billed as a bipartisan event. Among those attending were many LGBT Democrats and D.C. elected officials, including Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and D.C. Board of Education President Ruth Wattenberg.
“It’s a pleasure to be with you all today because you all know something that many of my colleagues don’t,” Hurd told the gathering. “If you’re at least the age of 40 in most places across this country you have to whisper that you’re a Republican,” he said. “This is a party that is shrinking. The party is not growing in some of the largest parts of our country,” he continued.
“Why is that? I’ll tell you. It’s real simple,” said Hurd. “Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a racist. Don’t be a misogynist, right? Don’t be a homophobe. These are real basic things that we all should learn when we were in kindergarten.”
Hurd’s district in Southern Texas includes more than a third of the U.S.-Mexico border. He has broken from many of his fellow Republicans by expressing strong opposition to President Trump’s controversial proposal to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.
He is also one of just eight Republicans in the House that voted earlier this year for the LGBT civil rights bill known as the Equality Act, which the House passed but is stalled in the Senate.
Hurd told the Log Cabin gathering that he has a quick reply to those in his majority Latino district in Texas and in Washington who ask him how he came to support LGBT rights.
“People would ask me and I would say, look, are you asking the only black Republican to support not being pro-equality?” Hurd said. “And most people never have a follow-up question to that.”
Added Hurd: “And you all have been toiling and fighting for a very long time. You all have had a difficult fight not only in our country but in our party. And so I just thank you for sticking to it. Thank you for caring about our principles. Thank you for being an example for so many other people.”
Log Cabin D.C. President Adam Savit and the group’s vice president, Patrick Wheat, said they believe the event, in which attendees mingled before and after Hurd spoke, succeeded in furthering a campaign started earlier this year by gay Democratic activist Paul Kuntzler to build a bipartisan effort to advance the rights of LGBT people. Kuntzler was among those who attended the event.
“It exceeded my expectations,” Wheat said. “I’m extremely excited to have as many representatives from both the LGBT community and the D.C. elected officials,” he told the Blade. “We are in a unique place as the District of Columbia Log Cabin Republicans to serve as a conservative voice in LGBT spaces and as an LGBT voice in conservative spaces.”
Among the others attending the event were Jerri Ann Henry, executive director of the national Log Cabin Republicans; Robert Kabel, chair of the board of the national Log Cabin group; Bobbi Elaine Strang, president of the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Jose Cunningham, the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Party; and James Abbott, a member of the U.S. Federal Labor Relations Board.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.)
Remarks before Log Cabin Republicans of D.C. Pride Social
June 20, 2019
Chastleton Apartments Ballroom
First of all, thanks for not un-inviting me. I don’t know if you all heard, I got invited to a cyber security event and was quickly disinvited after they saw my positions.
It’s a pleasure to be with you all today because you all know something that many of my colleagues don’t. If you’re at the age of 40 in most places across this country you have to whisper that you’re a Republican. This is a party that is shrinking. The party is not growing in some of the largest growing parts of our country.
Why is that? I’ll tell you. It’s real simple. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a racist. Don’t be a misogynist, right? Don’t be a homophobe. These are real basic things that we all should learn when we were in kindergarten. But unfortunately there’s too many people that don’t follow those things.
A lot of people when I first got elected – it was like how did the black dude get elected in a Latino district? It’s real simple. Show up, talk to people, right? I don’t care where you’re from. Most people realize the way we solve problems is by the power of the people not by the power of the government.
Most people know that the way to help people move up the economic ladder is by focusing on the free market. It’s not socialism. We know these things. But if people don’t feel like you trust them or you care about them they’re not going to listen to your ideas even if your ideas are benefiting the masses.
So that’s something that I’m trying to do. You know it’s unfortunate that I was only one of eight Republicans that voted for the Equality Act. I had a real – this guy is taking a lot of notes. Do we have the press here?
DC LCR Vice President Patrick Wheat: He’s with the Washington Blade.
Hurd: Ok, good…Be kind. That’s all I’m asking. People would ask me and I would say, look, are you asking the only black Republican to support not being pro-equality, right? And most people never have a follow up question to that. But the bottom line is this. We are facing – 2020 is going to be difficult. But the only way we make sure the principles and theories that we believe in are to continue to exist is if our party starts believing like the rest of the country.
And you all have been toiling and fighting for a very long time. You all have had a difficult fight not only in our country but in our party. And so I just say thank you for sticking to it. Thank you for caring about our principles. Thank you for being an example for so many other people.
And just know you’ve got some partners to fight on behalf of everyone. This is something that I’m going to continue to do while I’m in Congress, and God bless you all…And one minute, please. Can I tell a quick story? I’ll make it short.
So you also know that I was in the CIA for nine and a half years. I was doing the back allies at four O’clock in the morning collecting intelligence to protect our homeland – two years in India, two years Pakistan, two years in New York City, and a year and a half in Afghanistan.
And when I was in Pakistan it was in 2005 during an earthquake. I was there when an earthquake hit Cashmere that killed 80,000 people. The ambassador at the time wanted to figure out how we can help the Pakistani people. He said hurry up and get there and figure out what we need and he said we really need an airlift because Cashmere was at 14,000 feet. A lot of villages were even higher up. They were cut off from most of the country.
So we got about two dozen Chinook helicopters – C 47 helicopters. And I was directing this traffic to help people from these villages that were cut off. And I was about to jump on one of these helicopters to go to my bed down location and we had a report that one village had gone without food and water and power for about four days. And it was in the middle of the winter. At night it was negative 23 degrees below zero. It was a legitimate 20 degrees below zero.
So we decided to make one more stop. So we land in this village, big main doors open. And if you’ve ever seen a helicopter crew, they look like they’re from outer space. You know the flap mask, all this kind of stuff. And these villagers start piling on – about 200 people. And there is a little girl who had been without food and who was about six or seven years old – lost both her mom and her dad in the earthquake. She sees this whole scene. She’s crying. She’s scared, she’s upset.
And this village elder picks her up. So I grab this little girl and hold her as tight as I possibly can. And halfway through the flight she kind of calms down and relaxes a little bit. When we get to our destination we open the big doors in the helicopter. I put the little girl down. She takes about ten steps, turns around, comes back and gives me the biggest hug of my life. She goes over to the helicopter crew and the person she probably thought was from outer space and she kisses him on the hand. And he pats her on the head and gives her the thumbs up. She smiles real big and returns the gesture. And she runs away.
That little girl’s face is seared into my mind because that girl and what we did that day is an example of how the United States government is the only country that has the resources and the willingness to help people even when they’re 7,000 mile away. It’s another example how America has become the exceptional country, not because of what we have taken but because what we have given.
And we can measure our success on what we give, not what we take. And that’s something I’m going to continue to try to do in Congress. I’m glad there’s folks like you all that are willing to join this battle as well. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.