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Texas GOP snubs Log Cabin: shortsighted mistake or sign of things to come?

Party declares, ‘homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice’

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared transition-related care for youth a form of child abuse. (Screen capture via Fox News YouTube)

With the Texas GOP denying a booth at its convention to Log Cabin Republicans, condemning homosexuality as “abnormal” and repudiating transgender identities — as well as its continued refusal to accept President Biden’s election as legitimate — the resulting fallout has observers wondering if the imbroglio represents the past or the future of the Republican Party.

The Texas Republican Party delivered its full-throated rejection of LGBTQ people — including LGBTQ people who have aligned themselves with the Republican Party and former President Trump — as an official position in the state party platform drafted at a convention in Houston last weekend, which also includes a rejection of the 2020 election results and the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibiting discrimination against Black voters. Also at the convention, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was booed as he spoke for being part of the bipartisan working group that drafted the gun control agreement now moving through Congress in the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“Homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the Texas GOP platform says. “We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin, and we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

Additionally, the platform rejects “all efforts to validate transgender identity” at a time when states are moving forward with measures banning transgender youth from competing in school sports and instituting criminal penalties for medical providers providing transition-related care to minors. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has declared transition-related care for youth a form of child abuse and has ordered state agencies to investigate the parents of children receiving such care.

Cal Jillson, a political scientist who studies Texas politics at Southern Methodist University, said in an interview with the Blade the Texas Republican Party adopted these positions because “it’s the base of the base of the base” drafting them through a series of party and precinct meetings on the way up to the state convention.

“Many state parties have decided no longer to produce platforms in their conventions, because this happens all the time,” Jillson added. “You’ve got these deeply, ideologically committed conservatives who approve a platform that then asked to be explained away by candidates and others. So many state parties just say we’re not going to do a platform because we don’t want to go through this shit.”

The Texas Republican Party’s denial of booth space at the convention for the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas came despite the group’s commitment to conservative principles — even the repudiation of gender ideology and the Equality Act — and continued defense of President Trump as the first Republican president who was a gay ally.

Charles Moran, president of Log Cabin Republicans, urged the state party in a statement to look at the special election results in Texas last week — which saw the election to a congressional seat of Maya Flores, a Mexico-born Texas Hispanic woman and Republican — as the better alternative for the party.

“Texas Republicans just saw on Tuesday night what happens when the party includes new faces and voices – a Democrat-held seat was flipped for the first time in nearly a hundred years by a conservative Mexican woman,” Moran said. “It’s clear that inclusion wins, which makes the Texas Republican Party leadership’s decision to exclude the Texas Log Cabin Republicans from their convention not just narrow-minded, but politically short-sighted.”

It’s not the first time the Texas Republican Party has excluded Log Cabin Republicans from the convention. According to the Log Cabin Republicans, the Texas GOP has not allowed Log Cabin Republicans to have a booth in years.

“So what’s going now isn’t a change from anything….just a continuation,” Moran told the Blade. “The only difference is now the media is actually paying attention to it.”

The exclusion this year, however, has inspired commentary on both sides as Democratic opponents crow the situation is perfectly emblematic of a political party with an anti-LGBTQ history and reputation and Republicans call it an isolated incident in a party that has evolved in its approach as recent polls show marriage equality — a once unpopular idea within the GOP — now has majority support among Republicans.

Charlotte Clymer, a Democratic transgender activist, wrote on Twitter the exclusion of Log Cabin from the Texas Republican convention is not unexpected.

“Watching Log Cabin Republicans be denied access at the Texas Republican Convention is like if cows were incredulous over their applications being rejected by the butcher,” Clymer wrote.

Donald Trump Jr, who has become a leading figure in the conservative movement amid the rise of his father as a political figure and has become closely aligned with Richard Grenell, who after being the face of LGBTQ outreach under President Trump has become a star in right-wing media, was among those condemning the exclusion.

“The Texas GOP should focus its energy on fighting back against the radical Democrats and weak RINOs currently trying to legislate our 2nd Amendment rights away, instead of canceling a group of gay conservatives who are standing in the breach with us,” Trump Jr. told conservative outlet Breitbart.

The Texas Republican Party didn’t respond Wednesday to the Blade’s request for comment.

The rebuke of the Texas Republican Party appears to have its own opponents within Log Cabin. On Wednesday, Michael Cargill, acting chairman of Log Cabin Texas, announced in a statement posted to local chapter’s website he’s resigning from the board and as acting chairman, citing “DC and California LCR members inexplicably interceding in Texas affairs and trying to pointlessly bully the Texas GOP.” Log Cabin Republicans of Texas was due to have a booth at the convention by “at best 2022 and worst-case scenario 2024.”

“If the Log Cabin Republicans continue down a path of divisiveness, lack of respect for the chain of command and due process, bully tactics, lack of cohesion and unwillingness to work with all chapter and state LCR leaders in the organization, the state leadership will lose its diverse composition, and its ability to lead with credibility and a unified purpose,” Cargill said.

Additionally, Cargill said David Garza, vice president of Log Cabin Republicans Austin, and Mimi Planas, president of Log Cabin Republicans San Antonio, are also resigning from the Texas board. Further, Cargill writes “neither the Austin nor San Antonio chapters will be sending representatives to the Texas Board.”

Cargill via an email sent to Log Cabin Republicans of Texas didn’t respond Wednesday to a request for comment on what he meant by D.C. and California Log Cabin members “inexplicably interceding in Texas affairs and trying to pointlessly bully the Texas GOP.”

Moran, asked by the Blade to respond to the announced resignation, downplayed the departure as an acting leader within Log Cabin’s chapter system making an exit based on his temporary status.

“From my understanding, Mr. Cargill was serving in the role only in a temporary capacity, so his resignation comes as no surprise,” Moran said. “Our Texas board represents the 5 chapters in the state and state officers serve at the pleasure of those state boards.”

Brad Polumbo, a gay libertarian commentator, wrote in a column for the conservative Washington Examiner the exclusion of Log Cabin is at odds with the values of liberty and individual freedom within the Republican Party, which “should have room in its tent for both religious conservatives with traditional views on homosexuality and gay Republicans.”

“[A] political party’s job is to win elections, and the Texas GOP is openly rejecting a group that wants to support them, agrees with them on most issues, and wants to defeat the Democrats, all because they can’t stomach the thought of having gay people in their party,” Polumbo writes. “I wonder how that will play out with LGBT voters in the next state election?

Jillson predicted the exclusionary approach by Texas Republicans to LGBTQ people within their own party and LGBTQ issues would continue until they suffer losses at the ballot box, which hasn’t happened in years and would likely not happen in the near future with Republicans expected to win in the congressional mid-term elections.

“The Republicans who attend the state conventions are a yesteryear group, even in the Republican primary electorate, which is pretty far to the right,” Jillson said. “And they select the Republican candidates that then go on to defeat the Democratic candidates and statewide elections. So until that stops happening, the Republican Party is not going to look to the middle and say, ‘Oh, sorry. We’ve been ignoring you guys. What is it that you wanted?’ And they just don’t need to do that now.”

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U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows Biden administration to end MPP

Trump-era policy placed LGBTQ asylum seekers at increased risk

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday in a 5-4 ruling said the Biden administration can end a policy that forced asylum seekers to pursue their cases in Mexico.

The previous White House’s Migrant Protection Protocols program, which became known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, took effect in 2019.

The Biden administration suspended MPP enrollment shortly after it took office in January 2021. The program was to have ended six months later, but a federal judge in Texas ordered MPP’s reinstatement after the state and Missouri filed suit against the Biden administration.

Thursday’s ruling sends the Texas and Missouri case back to lower courts.

“As Secretary Mayorkas concluded in October 2021 after a thorough review, the prior administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement. “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision affirming that the Secretary has the discretionary authority to terminate the program, and we will continue our efforts to terminate the program as soon as legally permissible.” 

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) also welcomed the ruling.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision correctly acknowledges the Biden administration’s authority to end the unlawful and cruel ‘Remain in Mexico’ program,” he said in a statement. “For more than three years, this horrifying policy has denied asylum seekers their right to due process and subjected them to crimes like rape, kidnapping and torture in northern Mexican border cities while they await their court hearings.”

Advocates sharply criticized MPP, in part, because it made LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers who were forced to live in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Reynosa, Matamoros and other Mexican border cities even more vulnerable to violence and persecution based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

[email protected] Coalition President Bamby Salcedo on Thursday told the Washington Blade the Supreme Court ruling “will certainly impact our community in a positive way.”

“We know that people who have to remain in Mexico to wait continue to be victims of violence,” said Salcedo. “This is definitely a step in the right direction and we’re grateful that this happened in this way.”

Emilio Vicente, communications and policy director of Familia: TQLM, an organization that advocates on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming immigrants, echoed Salcedo.

“We’re glad to finally have some good news from the Supreme Court after horrible rulings on abortions, climate change, Native American rights,” said Vicente. “Ending ‘Remain in Mexico’ will allow LGBTQ+ asylum seekers who face increased discrimination and abuse during the journey to the U.S., to be able to seek asylum here.” 

Abdiel Echevarría-Cabán is a South Texas-based immigration attorney and human rights law and policy expert who the LGBTQ+ Bar in 2021 recognized as one of its 40 best LGBTQ lawyers who are under 40.

He told the Blade on Thursday the Supreme Court ruling is “a victory we must celebrate.” Echevarría-Cabán also said MPP placed LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers at increased risk. 

“Refugees in general, but especially LGBT refugees, are extremely vulnerable to other type of harms such as kidnappings by cartel members, extortion, physical and psychological abuses from Mexican law enforcement authorities and third parties given the high levels of discrimination for LGBT refugees in Mexico,” said Echevarría-Cabán.

The Supreme Court issued its ruling a day after the Justice Department filed charges against four people in connection with the deaths of 53 migrants who were found in the back of a tractor trailer truck in San Antonio.

The Biden administration in April announced its plans to terminate Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic. Title 42 was to have ended on May 23, but a federal judge ruled against the White House.

“This decision isn’t the end of the fight for ensuring that people seeking asylum get asylum but it’s an important step in protecting vulnerable people,” Vicente told the Blade after Thursday’s ruling. “President Biden must follow through on his commitment to end MPP and protect all asylum seekers.”

Salcedo noted to the Blade the “system, as it is, particularly when it comes to trans women, needs to be completely changed so that we can be at a better place as a community.” Padilla in his statement urged the Biden administration “to do everything in its power to swiftly end ‘Remain in Mexico’ once and for all.”

“Misguided and inhumane Trump-era policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 have only decimated an already broken immigration system,” he said. “We must keep working to restore the lawful processing of asylum seekers at the border, in keeping with America’s most deeply held values as a nation of immigrants.”

The Department of Homeland Security in its statement notes Title 42 remains in place.

“The department also continues to enforce our immigration laws at the border and administer consequences for those who enter unlawfully, and will continue the court-mandated enforcement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order,” it reads.

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Politics

Kamala Harris hosts Pride month reception

Upwards of 200 people attended Naval Observatory event

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Vice President Kamala Harris hosted about 200 guests for Pride Month celebration at her official residence on June 28, 2022. She spoke at the Capital Pride festival in D.C. earlier in the month. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Vice President Kamala Harris helped bring Pride Month to a close Tuesday at her residence with a celebration for high-profile members of the LGBTQ community, recognizing successes achieved but also urging continued movement.

“When we celebrate Pride, it’s because we understand not only the strength of what we have accomplished, and the fight for equality, but we [also] understand the fragility of these gains, and so we know what we must do to be vigilant and maintain [those rights],” Harris said.

The Advocate reported in coverage of the event the Pride celebration was the first ever to take place at the vice president’s residence, but that’s incorrect.

President Biden as vice president hosted a Pride event with LGBTQ leaders in 2014. Harris also said during the event her understanding was it was a first for a sitting vice president.

An estimated 200 attendees were present for the event at the Naval Observatory in D.C., which serves as the vice president’s official residence. Guests at the party mingled by the pool and partook of drinks served on a spinning wheel placed just outside.

High-profile officials from the Biden administration who were present included Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Neither delivered remarks. Also at the event was “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Shangela, who addressed the crowd.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who were among in plaintiffs in the litigation against California’s Proposition 8, were also present at the event. Harris married the couple in 2013 as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling restoring marriage equality to the state.

Perry and Stier spoke before the crowd and urged them to continue to stand strong in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as first Black woman Supreme Court justice

Roe v. Wade struck down last Friday

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, representing a welcome change on the bench for progressives who are still outraged after the decision last week overturning the right to abortion found in Roe v. Wade.

Jackson, who’s now the first Black woman to serve on the high court, has replaced Justice Stephen Breyer, a Clinton appointee who is retiring upon the end of the Supreme Court’s term. Breyer announced his forthcoming departure months ago as progressives urged him to stop to ensure a replacement appointed a Democratic president and confirmed by a Democratic Senate.

The briefing swearing-in was conducted by Chief Justice John Roberts, who administered the oath of office for Brown before a small gathering of Jackson’s family, including her two daughters, according to a report in the New York Times.

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement the beginning of Jackson’s tenure on the Supreme Court “will bring long-needed representation to the Supreme Court at a critical juncture in our nation’s history, and after the court’s disastrous term dismantling personal liberty.”

“It bears repeating the obvious that women, people of color and LGBTQ people are Americans deserving of equal protection under law,” Ellis said. “Justice Jackson will be a visible and inspiring presence on a court currently dominated by extremists, reminding all that America should always be moving forward to expand freedom.”

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