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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’



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.”


Federal Government

Lambda Legal praises Biden-Harris administration’s finalized Title IX regulations

New rules to take effect Aug. 1



U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (Screen capture: AP/YouTube)

The Biden-Harris administration’s revised Title IX policy “protects LGBTQ+ students from discrimination and other abuse,” Lambda Legal said in a statement praising the U.S. Department of Education’s issuance of the final rule on Friday.

Slated to take effect on Aug. 1, the new regulations constitute an expansion of the 1972 Title IX civil rights law, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.

Pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County case, the department’s revised policy clarifies that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity constitutes sex-based discrimination as defined under the law.

“These regulations make it crystal clear that everyone can access schools that are safe, welcoming and that respect their rights,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said during a call with reporters on Thursday.

While the new rule does not provide guidance on whether schools must allow transgender students to play on sports teams corresponding with their gender identity to comply with Title IX, the question is addressed in a separate rule proposed by the agency in April.

The administration’s new policy also reverses some Trump-era Title IX rules governing how schools must respond to reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault, which were widely seen as imbalanced in favor of the accused.

Jennifer Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said during Thursday’s call that the department sought to strike a balance with respect to these issues, “reaffirming our longstanding commitment to fundamental fairness.”

“We applaud the Biden administration’s action to rescind the legally unsound, cruel, and dangerous sexual harassment and assault rule of the previous administration,” Lambda Legal Nonbinary and Transgender Rights Project Director Sasha Buchert said in the group’s statement on Friday.

“Today’s rule instead appropriately underscores that Title IX’s civil rights protections clearly cover LGBTQ+ students, as well as survivors and pregnant and parenting students across race and gender identity,” she said. “Schools must be places where students can learn and thrive free of harassment, discrimination, and other abuse.”

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Mich. Democrats spar over LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes law

Lawmakers disagree on just what kind of statute to pass



Members of the Michigan House Democrats gather to celebrate Pride month in 2023 in the Capitol building. (Photo courtesy of Michigan House Democrats)

Michigan could soon become the latest state to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime law, but the state’s Democratic lawmakers disagree on just what kind of law they should pass.

Currently, Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act only offers limited protections to victims of crime motivated by their “race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.” Bills proposed by Democratic lawmakers expand the list to include “actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, physical or mental disability, age, national origin, or association or affiliation with any such individuals.” 

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have both advocated for a hate crime law, but house and senate Democrats have each passed different hate crimes packages, and Nessel has blasted both as being too weak.

Under the house proposal that passed last year (House Bill 4474), a first offense would be punishable with a $2,000 fine, up to two years in prison, or both. Penalties double for a second offense, and if a gun or other dangerous weapons is involved, the maximum penalty is six years in prison and a fine of $7,500. 

But that proposal stalled when it reached the senate, after far-right news outlets and Fox News reported misinformation that the bill only protected LGBTQ people and would make misgendering a trans person a crime. State Rep. Noah Arbit, the bill’s sponsor, was also made the subject of a recall effort, which ultimately failed.

Arbit submitted a new version of the bill (House Bill 5288) that added sections clarifying that misgendering a person, “intentionally or unintentionally” is not a hate crime, although the latest version (House Bill 5400) of the bill omits this language.

That bill has since stalled in a house committee, in part because the Democrats lost their house majority last November, when two Democratic representatives resigned after being elected mayors. The Democrats regained their house majority last night by winning two special elections.

Meanwhile, the senate passed a different package of hate crime bills sponsored by state Sen. Sylvia Santana (Senate Bill 600) in March that includes much lighter sentences, as well as a clause ensuring that misgendering a person is not a hate crime. 

Under the senate bill, if the first offense is only a threat, it would be a misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and up to $1,000 fine. A subsequent offense or first violent hate crime, including stalking, would be a felony that attracts double the punishment.

Multiple calls and emails from the Washington Blade to both Arbit and Santana requesting comment on the bills for this story went unanswered.

The attorney general’s office sent a statement to the Blade supporting stronger hate crime legislation.

“As a career prosecutor, [Nessel] has seen firsthand how the state’s weak Ethnic Intimidation Act (not updated since the late 1980’s) does not allow for meaningful law enforcement and court intervention before threats become violent and deadly, nor does it consider significant bases for bias.  It is our hope that the legislature will pass robust, much-needed updates to this statute,” the statement says.

But Nessel, who has herself been the victim of racially motivated threats, has also blasted all of the bills presented by Democrats as not going far enough.

“Two years is nothing … Why not just give them a parking ticket?” Nessel told Bridge Michigan.

Nessel blames a bizarre alliance far-right and far-left forces that have doomed tougher laws.

“You have this confluence of forces on the far right … this insistence that the First Amendment protects this language, or that the Second Amendment protects the ability to possess firearms under almost any and all circumstances,” Nessel said. “But then you also have the far left that argues basically no one should go to jail or prison for any offense ever.”

The legislature did manage to pass an “institutional desecration” law last year that penalizes hate-motivated vandalism to churches, schools, museums, and community centers, and is LGBTQ-inclusive.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Justice, reported hate crime incidents have been skyrocketing, with attacks motivated by sexual orientation surging by 70 percent from 2020 to 2022, the last year for which data is available. 

Twenty-two states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have passed LGBTQ-inclusive hate crime laws. Another 11 states have hate crime laws that include protections for “sexual orientation” but not “gender identity.”

Michigan Democrats have advanced several key LGBTQ rights priorities since they took unified control of the legislature in 2023. A long-stalled comprehensive anti-discrimination law was passed last year, as did a conversion therapy ban. Last month the legislature updated family law to make surrogacy easier for all couples, including same-sex couples. 

A bill to ban the “gay panic” defense has passed the state house and was due for a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.

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Drag queen announces run for mayor of Ind. city

Branden Blaettne seeking Fort Wayne’s top office



Branden Blaettner being interviewed by a local television station during last year’s Pride month. (WANE screenshot)

In a Facebook post Tuesday, a local drag personality announced he was running for the office of mayor once held by the late Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, who died last month just a few months into his fifth term.

Henry was recently diagnosed with late-stage stomach cancer and experienced an emergency that landed him in hospice care. He died shortly after.

WPTA, a local television station, reported that Fort Wayne resident Branden Blaettne, whose drag name is Della Licious, confirmed he filed paperwork to be one of the candidates seeking to finish out the fifth term of the late mayor.

Blaettner, who is a community organizer, told WPTA he doesn’t want to “get Fort Wayne back on track,” but rather keep the momentum started by Henry going while giving a platform to the disenfranchised groups in the community. Blaettner said he doesn’t think his local fame as a drag queen will hold him back.

“It’s easy to have a platform when you wear platform heels,” Blaettner told WPTA. “The status quo has left a lot of people out in the cold — both figuratively and literally,” Blaettner added.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle reported that state Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, who has led the Indiana House Democratic caucus since 2018, has added his name to a growing list of Fort Wayne politicos who want to be the city’s next mayor. A caucus of precinct committee persons will choose the new mayor.

According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the deadline for residents to file candidacy was 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. A town hall with the candidates is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday at Franklin School Park. The caucus is set for 10:30 a.m. on April 20 at the Lincoln Financial Event Center at Parkview Field.

At least six candidates so far have announced they will run in the caucus. They include Branden Blaettne, GiaQuinta, City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers, City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, former city- and county-council candidate Palermo Galindo, and 2023 Democratic primary mayoral candidate Jorge Fernandez.

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