In a turnabout from 2016, the National Log Cabin Republicans has endorsed Trump for re-election, asserting he “met his commitments” to LGBT people.
Robert Kabel and Jill Holman — who both are gay and serve as chair and vice chair of Log Cabin, respectively — announced the endorsement Thursday in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
“To be treated equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that ‘Inclusion Wins’ is a mantra we share with the president,” they write. “The Log Cabin Republicans endorse Donald Trump for re-election as president.”
The endorsement is a surprise for numerous reasons. For starters, critics have said the Trump administration is overwhelmingly hostile to LGBT rights.
The long list of grievances includes the transgender military ban, the exclusion of LGBT people from the enforcement of civil rights laws and actions undermining LGBT rights in the name of “religious freedom.”
Just this week, the Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would undermine President Obama’s 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, allowing federal contractors to fire and refuse to hire LGBT employees by citing a religious objection.
Downplaying all that, the Log Cabin op-ed cites the Trump administration’s plan to beat the HIV epidemic by 2030, the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality and the appointment of Richard Grenell, who’s gay, as U.S. ambassador to Germany.
“This is the party that Trump has helped make possible by moving past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, in particular by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook,” Kabel and Homan write.
In conclusion, the op-ed acknowledges Log Cabin “do[es] not agree with every policy” of the Trump administration, making a reference to the transgender military ban.
“We are committed to letting all qualified Americans serve in the military, and Log Cabin Republicans was a leader in the legal fight to end the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the op-ed says. “We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.”
Log Cabin declined in 2016 to endorse Trump. The Republican presidential nominee never met with the LGBT group, which at time was a criterion for its support. (Log Cabin endorsed McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 after the candidates met with the organization.)
Charles Moran, a Log Cabin spokesperson, cited a lack of precedent for having an incumbent Republican in a office as a reason for Log Cabin going ahead with the endorsement decision without having met with the candidate.
“We’ve not had a second term Republican president that Log Cabin has had the opportunity to endorse in quite some time,” Moran said. “2004 was the last time and we declined to endorse President Bush for re-election due to the constitutional ban on gay marriage he made a centerpiece of the campaign. So we really don’t have any president for a re-election to follow. We did meet with senior Trump campaign officials leading up to the endorsement to discuss our issues, and Log Cabin has met with Administration officials on an as-needed basis since he was elected.”
Strangely, the op-ed heavily cites the 2016 Republican National Convention, when Peter Thiel became the first speaker at a Republican National Convention to publicly declare he’s gay and Trump said he’d “protect LGBTQ people.” Kabel and Homan call it a “dream fulfilled.” In 2016, the convention had already taken place when Log Cabin made its endorsement decision, but decided at that time not to endorse Trump.
Absent from the op-ed is the name or signature of Jerri Ann Henry, who serves as executive director of Log Cabin. Moran attributed the absence of her name from the op-ed to the endorsement being a decision of the board, not staff leadership.
“The op-ed was signed by two board members,” Moran said. “Bob and Jill are also members of the RNC. Bob and Jill lead the Board and it was the board that voted to endorse Trump. It makes sense they would be the signatories on the op-ed.”
The announcement also comes as a surprise because Log Cabin usually waits until the Republican National Convention to make a endorsement decision. With the convention in Charlotte, N.C., more than a year away, Log Cabin makes a drastic departure from its usual practice.
Moran said Log Cabin broke its practice to make an endorsement decision at the time “because it makes sense to do so,” citing strong support among its chapters for the decision.
“The campaign and RNC are working hand in hand to build the best ground and digital operation in history, so our endorsement occurs sooner because we can maximize the impact by getting involved early,” Moran said. “We know there is no other viable alternative to challenge President Trump in the primary, and President Trump has earned our endorsement. Our chapters were overwhelmingly supportive of the early endorsement and they want to be involved. It made political and practical sense to do this now.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with responses from Log Cabin Republicans.