The Reality-Defying Shame of Log Cabin Republicans Who Endorse Trump

By tim.teeman@thedailybeast.com (Tim Teeman)
Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

What it must be to be a Log Cabin Republican, and to experience the present political era as a good one for LGBTQ people.

The closest approximation is perhaps the world as imagined by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Alice in Wonderland: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”

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Carroll was a master of absurdity; and so one travels through another kind of looking glass when considering the endorsement of President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in a comment piece in the Washington Post authored by Robert Kabel, chairman of Log Cabin Republicans, and Jill Homan, the group’s vice chairwoman.

It takes a certain level of perverse chutzpah, or a certain level of confidence in your gaslighting abilities, to claim that President Trump is good for LGBTQ people in the same week that the Trump administration moved to let federal contractors use “religious exemptions” as an excuse to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans in the workplace.

There was no mention of this in the Washington Post article. The only note of dissent came when noting President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. The authors note, “We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.”

How’s that going?

Another thing the column doesn't explain: What changed since Log Cabin refused to endorse Trump in 2016 on the grounds that he “surrounded himself with senior advisers with a record of opposing LGBT equality, and committed himself to supporting legislation such as the so-called ‘First Amendment Defense Act’?”

Is Log Cabin now at ease with the administration’s use of “religious liberty” as an instrument to chip away at LGBT rights and protections? It goes unmentioned in the column endorsing Trump for re-election, but the administration stands square behind those who wish to use their faith as a justification for refusing goods and services to LGBTQ people.

Do not forget the “religious liberty task force,” set up by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, following a religious liberty executive order, issued by the president himself.

The laundry list of this administration’s anti-LGBTQ actions and announcements is depressingly extensive. But it goes unmentioned here. What has the Log Cabin seen and rationalized differently?

These are their successes: first, Peter Thiel and the ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell—both figures are divisive to say the least, and their homosexuality can hardly be considered an all-purpose shield to use in their defense.

Trump, claim the authors, has removed “gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.” This is, pace Carroll, absurdist nonsense, and in contravention of everything Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have done; from the trans ban to such sundries as ordering American embassies to take down their Pride flags this summer, the current administration has made their animus to LGBTQ people abundantly clear.

But the Log Cabin see different; they exist in a world where green is blue, and sky is earth. Through the looking glass works for them. It has to work for them to get them to their end goal: their support of the president.

Trump may well have “committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS” in the next decade, as the authors write; time will tell if that commitment bears fruit. To date, this administration’s record on HIV and AIDS has fallen far short, most starkly symbolized in the mass resignations, and then terminations, of those who sat on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2017 (the Council has now re-formed).

Oddly, Trump and Pence don’t have much to say on the campaign trail about Trump’s determination to see homosexuality decriminalized in all the countries around the world where homosexuality remains a crime—but the Log Cabin are very excited about this alleged commitment.

The authors also claim that LGBTQ Americans benefit from everything else Trump has done, from tax cuts to foreign policy. There is no evidence presented for this. How could there be? It is inflated rhetoric. A certain kind of LGBTQ person may benefit from Trump’s policies; many others, especially those who are poor, trans, or people of color, may not.

“To be treated equally, fairly and justly under the law is our goal, and we know that ‘Inclusion Wins’ is a mantra we share with the president,” the Log Cabin authors write.

On what basis? When have President Trump and Mike Pence ever walked the walk on LGBTQ inclusion? This administration has done everything to diminish hard-fought-for LGBTQ rights and equality, and assist those groups and organizations determined to do the same.

On Friday, the Department of Justice submitted a brief to the Supreme Court arguing that transgender people are not protected by Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.

This brief references one of a trio of landmark cases to be argued at SCOTUS on Oct. 8, which will decide if LGBTQ people can be protected from discrimination under existing law. None of these cases, not one mention, can be found in the authors’ endorsement article.

Is it a joke, a gaslight, an exercise in stretching credulity to justify an end? What can this piece of writing be, what can these two Log Cabin members and all who agree with them truly believe about this administration and its intentions towards LGBTQ people? 

Some commentators puzzle over why Republican politicians do not stand up to President Trump. A possible answer is a toxic combination: a fear of standing up to be counted, and a desire to maintain a grip on power.

If the Log Cabin’s purpose is to aspire to a higher purpose—to maintain a presence, to keep a seat at the table—where is the proof of the group’s influence when it comes to pro-LGBT equality policy-making? It is Pence’s hard-right, religious compadres we see in highly-publicized White House events. The trans military ban stands in place, despite Log Cabin’s “pressing.”

The LGBTQ people who agree with the editorial in the Washington Post will vote for President Trump with ease. They may like and support him; LGBTQ people come in as many political and ideological shades as straight, and so be it.

But, unless they have been thoroughly reprogrammed like a Stepford-bot, they will also know the truth of the homo- and transphobia of these times. And they must maintain a strange inner peace knowing that.

Maybe the present climate doesn’t matter to them because it hasn’t directly touched their lives. Maybe their love of Trump and the Republican party as it presently is supersedes whatever they identify with when it comes to their sexuality. Maybe they’re doing just fine.

But they should also know—and of course they do know—that other LGBTQ people are not doing fine. They also know that attacking people for being LGBTQ is not fine—and so endorsing a virulently anti-LGBTQ administration, when you are an LGBTQ political group, seems as bizarre as it is damaging.

Reaching the end of this odd, upside-down piece of writing in the Washington Post, the question in the reader’s mind becomes less “why are you doing this?,” than “how on earth did you get to this point as LGBTQ people?” In this, the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots, what happened to your gay pride?

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