What to make of the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Donald Trump’s re-election bid?
The surprise move came in a Washington Post op-ed from Log Cabin chair Robert Kabel and vice chair Jill Homan earlier this month.
It came despite Trump’s well-documented racism and his myriad attacks on the LGBTQ community.
It came despite Log Cabin’s own precedent in how it awards endorsements. Traditionally, a candidate had to meet with Log Cabin to win its support, as George W. Bush did in 2000 and Mitt Romney did in 2012. But Trump didn’t meet with Log Cabin. It’s a safe bet Trump has no idea who Kabel and Homan are or what Log Cabin does. The group has also traditionally withheld its endorsement until after the convention. We don’t even know who Trump’s Democratic opponent will be and just this weekend he picked up a second Republican primary challenger. Yet, Log Cabin rushed its endorsement more than a year before the election. The op-ed was not signed by Log Cabin executive director Jerri Ann Henry, fueling rumors that she has been sidelined by the board.
In their op-ed, Kabel and Homan praised Peter Thiel’s speech at the 2016 GOP convention in which he said from the podium, “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.” It was a nice moment, but talk is cheap. Kabel and Homan conveniently ignore the fact that the Republican platform that year contained the most anti-LGBTQ language in history, including support for “ex-gay” conversion therapy. It was so bad that Log Cabin declined to endorse Trump that year.
They praise Trump for his efforts to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years; to push for decriminalization of homosexuality around the world; and his economic record, which they contend has helped create new LGBTQ-founded small businesses.
Let’s take a closer look. First, on HIV/AIDS, it’s a commendable goal but amid the hoopla around “ending HIV,” Trump’s administration has initiated attacks on LGBTQ patients, with HHS proposing a rule that would allow insurers and providers to discriminate against trans patients. HHS has also sought to roll back ACA protections and enable providers and insurers to deny care and coverage to LGBTQ people based on religious or moral beliefs. As for decriminalization, sure, another worthy goal. But, gee, the bar is awfully low if he wins an endorsement for merely asserting that gays shouldn’t be locked up. Finally, on small business, Kabel and Homan again conveniently ignore that the SBA, which won a prestigious award from Harvard University for its creative and inclusive outreach to LGBTQ entrepreneurs under President Obama, deleted LGBTQ-related content from its website after Trump’s inauguration and only restored the information after an outcry.
The real problem with the endorsement is that it gives cover to a president, a vice president and an administration that continue to attack LGBTQ Americans. Just last week, the Blade’s intrepid Chris Johnson asked Trump a question about his efforts to roll back LGBTQ protections. Trump ignored the substance of the question and instead pivoted to brag about his Log Cabin endorsement. He predictably had trouble recalling the name of the group that had endorsed him. And Trump’s language during the exchange was telling as he deliberately avoided using the word “gay” or the “LGBTQ” acronym. Instead, he said he’s “done very well with that community.”
Then, just three days after the exchange with Johnson at the White House, Trump’s Justice Department submitted a voluntary 34-page brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn’t apply to cases of anti-gay discrimination. As the Blade reported, with only 21 states having laws barring sexual orientation discrimination, the 2020 high court ruling on the extent of protections under federal law will have a broad impact on gay, lesbian and bisexual workers.
There’s simply no legitimate rationale for an LGBTQ organization — even a Republican one — to endorse Trump. It is the ultimate in white privilege that Kabel and Homan can ignore children in cages, immigrant deaths in U.S. custody, racist Tweets, the trans military ban and so many other attacks and affronts and back Trump in 2020. Rewarding Trump’s cruel record with praise will only inspire more attacks. What a heartless stunt from a soulless and increasingly irrelevant organization.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at email@example.com.