As President Trump closes out his first 100 days in office, his presidency thus far is serving as a litmus test for LGBT Republicans. Their perspectives provide the clearest indication yet that they are Republicans first, LGBT second.
It’s actually an age-old conundrum for the individuals who have one foot in both camps. Are they advocates for the LGBT community who nevertheless happen to otherwise identify as a Republican? Or are they advocates for the Republican Party who happen to identify as LGBT? Because the GOP has staunchly opposed LGBT equality in just about every form, how a person reconciles those dueling identities is vital in determining whether or not they should be trusted as partners in advocating for LGBT equality.
The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) aren’t leaving room for doubt. Though the group didn’t endorse Trump in the election, it regularly advocated for his election. And now, 100 days in, they’re as enamored as ever.
Speaking to the Washington Blade, LCR president Gregory T. Angelo shrugged off the so-called “non-troversies” about anti-LGBT actions the Trump administration has taken, calling them “fundraising ploys to rile up dejected LGBT liberals still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s loss.”
When asked to grade Trump’s first 100 days, Angelo gave Trump an A-. All of the other LGBT organizations the Blade spoke to gave him an F.
In a New York Times op-ed Thursday, Angelo also insisted, “Trump isn’t anti-LGBT.” His brief explanation why includes a fairly short list of things Trump either hasn’t changed from the status quo or hasn’t done yet.
Angelo’s comments to the Blade and Times this week follow his recent profile on WNYC’s new queer-themed podcast Nancy. In those interviews, he boasts that LCR has the ear of the Trump administration and stands to be a bigger influence than the other LGBT groups that don’t want to work with the administration at all.
When BuzzFeed’s Dominic Holden called Angelo to ask about whether LCR had expressed concern when the Trump administration rescinded the federal guidance protecting transgender students, all Angelo could offer was, “We’ve certainly expressed our opposition to it.” He claimed “there wasn’t sufficient time that we had to push back on this that would’ve been effective,” even though Vice President Mike Pence promised the guidance would go away way back in October — before the election even took place. “We have communicated with the administration and let them know that we are disappointed in this decision to rescind the guidance. I don’t know what else we can do at this point.”
In a follow-up interview, Angelo said he was still optimistic that the Trump administration could rectify the situation or take other pro-LGBT actions, explaining that his job as head of LCR depends upon that optimism.
That optimism is shared by Caitlyn Jenner, who has been doing numerous prominent interviews to promote her new book. In just about every interview, she has been asked whether she stands by her vocal support of Trump and the Republican Party, and she has constantly equivocated — avoiding any responsibility for her support while continuing to defend his administration.
“My loyalties do not lie with Donald Trump; my loyalties do not lie with the Republican Party,” she told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday. “My loyalties and what I’m fighting for is my community, the LGBT community, and particularly the trans issues that are out there.” Though she thought Trump would be “pretty good,” she said that he has “disappointed” her on those issues.
The following night, she told CNN’s Don Lemon that Trump has “made some mistakes” on LGBT issues — or “LBGT” as she said several times. “I don’t support him in everything that he does,” Jenner said, “but we needed to shake the system up.” Her suggestion about what to do with Trump’s anti-LGBT actions is just to “watch him very closely.”
In addition to praising Trump or glossing over his words and actions, some gay Republicans are simply trying to divert attention away from him, like Charles T. Moran and Matthew Craffey, past and present chairmen of the California Log Cabin Republicans. In an op-ed published Thursday in The Advocate, Moran and Craffey complained that the Los Angeles Pride Parade — like Pride celebrations in many other cities like New York City and Washington, D.C. — has been repurposed as a civil rights march in response to the Trump administration.
Describing the plan as a “short-sighted and politically fueled tirade,” Moran and Craffey insist that it will do “little to celebrate and inform.” They believe the call to “#resist” will only serve to “#divide” the community (i.e. they’ll feel ostracized because they aren’t willing to oppose Trump to support LGBT equality).
Instead of making the parade political, their preferred diversion is to focus on the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Unsurprisingly, they use that anniversary to sound the familiar dogwhistle of homonationalist Islamophobia, the idea Trump campaigned on that the LGBT community should rally with him against radical Islamic terrorism.
Somehow, Moran and Craffey believe that marching for equality “does nothing to keep us safe from terrorists who hate us” and “does nothing to memorialize the lives lost in Orlando.” They accuse the organizers of L.A. Pride of not being willing to “stand up to recognize the victims who gave their lives at the hands of a terrorist on that hallowed day.”
Besides the fact that advocating for equality and inclusion is exactly what is necessary to avoid future hate-fueled attacks on the LGBT community, Moran and Craffey seem to forget — in their zeal to avoid partisan divisions — that the roots of LGBT pride celebrations are entirely political. The first Pride, originally known as Christopher Street Liberation Day, was held in June of 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall Riots the year before. Though they object to a #Resist-themed Pride, the Village Voice called the original Pride “the out-front resistance that grew out of the police raid on the Stonewall Inn one year ago.” It was a march for visibility and a march for advocacy.
To suggest that Pride should not be political is to erase the very history of LGBT civil rights. But this erasure is exactly what LGBT Republicans are looking for. They want to distract from the litany of anti-LGBT actions the Trump administration has taken, including:
- Rescinding the guidance protecting transgender students
- Erasing LGBT people from data collection
- Appointing many anti-LGBT personnel to prominent positions (Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Roger Severino, etc.)
- Considering a pro-discrimination “religious freedom” executive order, which is still reportedly in the works
- Dropping out of various LGBT-related court cases
These are in addition to the many ways LGBT people will be negatively affected by other Trump actions, such as the Muslim ban (there are LGBT Muslims), the global gag rule (which impacts clinics that provide HIV services and LGBT-affirming treatment), and the crackdown on immigration (there are LGBT immigrants, and trans immigrants in particular are notoriously mistreated in detention facilities).
The only credit Trump can be given on LGBT issues, as Angelo subtly admitted in his op-ed, is for the anti-LGBT actions he has not taken (yet). And though that measure is hardly laudable, groups like the Log Cabin Republicans seem to nevertheless want credit for it, even though they have no receipts they can show demonstrating that they have actually had any impact whatsoever.
What seems more likely is that LGBT Republicans appreciate that the GOP controls both the White House and Congress and they just want to be seen as relevant and influential. They might even believe they can be, despite the fact even LCR described the 2016 Republican platform as the “most anti-LGBT… in the Party’s 162-year history.”
At best, however, all they’ve really managed to do is remind the world that they exist while propping up those eager to discriminate against them.