Richard Grenell, the former acting head of national intelligence under President Trump, has joined the Republican National Committee as a senior adviser focusing on LGBTQ outreach, an RNC official confirmed to the Blade on Thursday.
“As America’s first openly-gay cabinet member, I can confidently say that President Trump has done more for gay and lesbian Americans than any other president, and it is not even close,” Grenell said in a statement to Fox News, which was first to report the development.
It’s a new role for the Republican Party, which has a documented history of being hostile to advancing LGBTQ rights. In many ways, that still continues. The Republican National Committee renewed for the 2020 election cycle its 2016 platform, which calls for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, objects to use of federal law to ensure transgender people can use the restroom consistent with their gender identity and makes veiled support for widely discredited conversion therapy.
As acting head of intelligence under Trump, Grenell has the distinction of being the first openly gay Cabinet member in history, although he never sought or obtained Senate confirmation for the role, and also served as U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell also spearheaded the global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality in the 69 countries where it remains illegal.
Upon leaving the federal government, Grenell has been active in efforts to re-elect Trump, including by being an attack dog on Twitter denouncing LGBTQ rights advocates he sees as shills for the Democrats and journalists he sees as biased against Trump.
The news Grenell has joined the RNC comes on the heels of his appearance in a Twitter video produced by Log Cabin Republicans highlighting Trump as the “most pro-gay president” ever. The video undercuts Joe Biden’s record on LGBTQ rights by claiming he’s fallen short, despite the general perception he’s been a champion, and promotes Trump, despite the actions his administration has taken widely deemed anti-LGBTQ.
Grenell joins the RNC after a report in Politico months ago he had joined the Trump re-election campaign, which Grenell vehemently denied. It wouldn’t have been Grenell’s first stint on a presidential campaign. Grenell was tapped as foreign policy spokesperson for the Romney campaign in 2012, but after social conservatives blew a fuse, the relationship was ended after only 12 days.
Christian Berle, a gay D.C. political consultant and former staffer with Log Cabin Republicans, said “it’s great to see” the RNC seeking votes from LGBTQ people, that won’t be enough for him in the coming election.
“President Donald Trump and his administration’s horrific record on matters of equality negate any foundation for gay voters backing him for a second term,” Berle said. “Whether it’s a heightened animus towards transgender individuals or arguing for the right to discriminate in adoption and in the workplace, his administration has been a giant step backwards from the previous administration. My husband and I will be crossing party lines to vote for Biden this year, because another four years of Trump will only make lives worse for LGBTQ people.”