As the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) says he values religious and personal liberty. So, through that lens, it’s no surprise that he’d call on his fellow Republicans to be more open-minded and accepting of the LGBT community, and of religious minorities, particularly Jews and Muslims.
But Cantor also happens to have a long, anti-gay record. And through that lens, his newly-announced support for broadening the Republican party to be more religiously and LGBT inclusive is surprising, and not quite believable.
Despite the fact that Cantor wrote a book saying the “bigoted and intolerant” Republican Party was a “myth,” in a recent interview with BuzzFeed, Cantor said that he thinks Republicans, as the party of freedom, need to have more “acceptance of diversity”:
“I think an even bigger issue than that, from a cultural standpoint, is the acceptance of diversity. And the acceptance of diversity of opinion,” Cantor said, explaining that while he may have is own personal opinions on morality or religion, “at some point we’re all here as Americans and we all have to be appreciative of other people’s views.”
“And it’s that tolerance, I think that that tolerance is something that enables people to be passionate about their positions. And if you’re for gay marriage, this country allows you to express your views. Some states support it and allow it, and others don’t. But its ok to have that difference of opinion in that,” he said.
When asked if the Republican Party specifically needs to do a better job of accepting opinions on gay marriage and other cultural issues that do not align with party orthodoxy, Cantor said “absolutely.”
Cantor’s support for a more inclusive Republican party is heartening, if it’s real. But so far, the Representative has no record to back that up.
He has not supported any major legislation that would have made the lives of gay people in any way less challenging: He voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he voted not to protect LGBT employees from discrimination in the office, and he voted against extending hate crimes protections to include LGBT victims.
Two pieces of legislation Cantor did support: Defunding needle exchange programs that reduce the spread of HIV and adding an amendment to the constitution banning same-sex marriage.