There’s entirely too much fuss about gay Republicans. They’re just Republicans after all. Being gay makes them no different from the rest of their kind. It never has; it never will. However much we invest in denouncing them, the net yield of our efforts will always be less than zero. They know what they’re doing, and no amount of outrage from the rest of us has ever changed that. We might just as well rail against the Republican coal miners of West Virginia.
The entire political philosophy of gay Republicans is simply “lefty gays are intolerant, and I will prove it by saying things tenuous and inflammatory until they ‘attack’ me.” Of course the current head of the Log Cabin Republicans’ D.C. chapter, Adam Savit, gleefully supports Trump’s anti-immigrant positions and denies the extent of his supporters’ racism. And of course the leaders of the national Log Cabin organization endorsed Trump for re-election. What else do we expect?
If you really need to hate them, just ignore them. Absent our outrage, they have no power to be seen, heard, or validated. Instead, take your anger toward gay Republicans and focus it somewhere it might actually do some good.
Right now, we’re lousy with a raft of well-meaning straight Democratic “allies” who hold office in places where it’s possible to pass legislation further advancing LGBTQ equality, but they won’t attempt it. We have several national LGBTQ organizations promising us progress, but they’re seldom accountable when they achieve nothing in parts of the country most desperate for it. We know closeted politicians, and not just the toe-tapping GOP types, who hurt us with their silence, indifference, or inaction on issues that matter; but we refuse to out them. Worst of all, we never question the very open LGBTQ politicians who raise money from the community, exploit our desire to “make history with their election,” and then sit in legislative sessions or executive offices with little to show for it but lovely excuses.
If it doesn’t piss you off that a lazy Democrat wins our support for being less horrendous than the nearest Republican, then you should consider what you want from politicians. “Better than a Republican” is a terribly low bar.
Perhaps it’s too emotionally charged to recall how often we’ve been abandoned by our “friends” and the members of our own community whom we put in office. Maybe it’s easier to forget the times they told us why we can’t have something – “not this session,” “leadership won’t back it,” “if we give you that, others will complain” – than to confront our own role in electing them. But whatever our motivations are, every time we fulminate at some gay Republican, we make it easier for a Democrat to repeat this process, to ignore us and disclaim any responsibility.
Unfortunately, we’re locked in a way of thinking that benchmarks everyone against the closeted Republican politicians who voted against our rights at the turn of the last century. In 2006, openly gay member of the U.S House of Representatives, Congressman Barney Frank (now retired), articulated a political axiom known as the “Frank Rule” in which he isolated hypocrisy as the cardinal sin of gay Republicans. In the age of Larry Craig and Ken Mehlman, Frank argued it was justified to out gay Republicans because “the right to privacy [about their sexual orientation] should not be a right to hypocrisy.”
That’s fine. But hypocrisy is a reasonable standard for judging all in politics, making any application of the Frank Rule too narrow to be useful. It conveniently excuses Democrats who vote for LGBTQ equality but do little else, and it fully exculpates gay Democrats, closeted or otherwise, who do absolutely no work whatsoever to advance LGBTQ equality. Their hypocrisy goes unmentioned even as openly gay Republicans send us into a frenzy when they exhibit all the standard hallmarks of a Republican.
Our “friends” don’t like to be called out for the ways they’ve slighted us, and they actually respond to a public shaming. So stop giving a damn about gay Republicans. The next time one pisses you off, ask a gay Democrat what they’re working on to make our lives better.
Brian Gaither (@briangaither) is a gay writer and activist living in Maryland.