Karen Ocamb

Will LGBT Progressives Work with Log Cabin Republicans in 2011?

Filed By Karen Ocamb | December 28, 2010 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Alex Nicholson, Clarke Cooper, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Log Cabin Republicans, progressive movement

While mainstream media pundits give President Obama, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi most of the credit for repealing the odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell military policy during the lame duck session last week, repeal advocates in the auditorium on Dec. 18 gave the longest standing ovation to Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who lead the charge for repeal on the GOP side of the congressional aisle. Without independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and those six Republican votes for cloture and the eight votes for passage of the repeal act, DADT would still be on the books with no end in sight.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, in white on the right, receives a standing ovation at the signing ceremony Photo courtesy Log Cabin Republicans

In fact, in a Daily Beast column last Wednesday, author John Avlon, a former speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, wrote that GOP centrists Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins are the new power players in Congress:

"[L]ook at the litany of accomplishments from this lame duck--from the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell to ratification of New START--and you'll see that an emerging group of centrist Republican senators made the margins of victory possible. Significantly, the name John McCain is not on that list.

Instead, one-time Tea Party hero Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Maine's centrist stalwarts Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and Alaskan survivor Lisa Murkowski are at the heart of this new Mod Squad. In addition to departing Senators George Voinovich, Judd Gregg, and Bob Bennett, they have been joined on various bills by Indiana's legendary Richard Lugar, Illinois freshman Mark Kirk, and the Tennessee twosome of Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. Even North Carolina's Richard Burr crossed party lines to support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

These Republican senators will hold the balance of power in the coming Congress. They represent the reasonable edge of the opposition--and they will be rewarded for their independence. Because winning their support will be essential to moving legislation forward over the next two years of the Obama administration."

The underwritten story of the DADT repeal is how significant a role the Log Cabin Republicans played in lobbying GOP members of Congress. The question is now - will LGBT Democratic progressives seek common ground with their partisan counterparts to move the equality agenda forward in 2011?

LGBT anger towards Republicans has been congealing since Anita Bryant and Jerry Falwell targeted conservative Christian Republicans in 1977 in their crusade to overturn local ordinances prohibiting discrimination against gays. The anger turned into rage during the Reagan-Bush years when the government turned its back on gay people dying daily from AIDS.

But the intersection of the Religious Right and the Republican Party was not happenstance - it was a crafted strategy with devastating effect. It is therefore important to understand how crass political opportunism works - and how it can work to advance LGBT equality.

Lee Atwater, right, with President George H.W. Bush

Before there was Karl Rove, the "architect" of President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election, there was Lee Atwater, the architect of George H.W. Bush's election in 1988. While Rove used antigay marriage initiatives to bring out the evangelical and social conservative vote in key states such as Ohio, Atwater used racism - epitomized by the "Willie Horton" ad - against Bush's opponent, Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.

Before Bush the Elder, Atwater, then aged 29, was Ronald Reagan's political director in his campaign to win the1980 Republican Presidential nomination. According to a New York Times obit after Atwater died in March 1991 (at age 40), the GOP political guru developed his skills in negative campaigning growing up in Democratically-dominated South Carolina. “Republicans in the South could not win elections by talking about issues,” Atwater said. “You had to make the case that the other guy, the other candidate, is a bad guy.”

That was about winning elections - all's fair in love, war and politics. In the late 1970s and 80s, liberal Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill was known to argue partisan politics with his counterpart dapper Republican Minority Leader Bob Michaels, only to go out for drinks later or play golf together over the weekend. During Reagan's presidency, O'Neill called the former California governor and B-movie actor “Herbert Hoover with a smile” and “a cheerleader for selfishness” and the rich. But, as Reagan described in his memoirs that they were friends “after 6PM.” Reagan once joked about a Valentines card he received from O’Neill: “I knew it was from Tip, because the heart was bleeding.”

House Speaker Newt Gingrinch

But that style of professional camaraderie started to change with the rise of the brash new GOP leader Newt Gingrich who charged O'Neill's successor, House Speaker Jim Wright with ethics violations, though the investigation revealed Gingrich himself had engaged in exactly the same practice. Wright's resignation catapulted Gingrich into prominence and subsequently the leader of the Republican Revolution that ended the Democrats' 40-year control of Congress. It also ushered in the politics of personal destruction, which continues to this day.

But that harsh tactic wasn't reserved exclusively for Democrats. Despite Reagan's commandment to not speak ill of a fellow Republican, the idea of "party discipline" was more critical and anyone who disagreed with the Republican Party line was shunned and dismissively labeled RINO's – "Republicans In Name Only."

Lee Atwater died before Gingrich introduced the new, meaner GOP. But in an interview with me in 1990, Atwater, who Bush named chair of the Republican National Committee after the election, insisted the Republican Party was a "Big Tent" and accused the Democrats of being the Party with the litmus test - especially on abortion.

During a break at a Bush fundraiser for California gubernatorial hopeful Pete Wilson at the Century Plaza Hotel (outside of which AIDS protesters were staging die-ins), Atwater spent more time with me than with other reporters explaining what he meant by "big tent." One effort was outreach to black voters, clearly to overcome the "Willie Horton" ad.

But I was surprised by his answer on the issue of abortion rights - considering the powerful political influence of the Religious Right. Atwater said that while he personally didn't agree with abortion, people who were Pro-Choice were welcome in the party. Similarly, Atwater said sexual orientation was no bar to party membership, either - it was a matter of personal privacy.

Lee Atwater in the Oval Office with President GHW Bush

The Times obit mentions the shift in political strategy, as well:

"As he talked about appealing to black voters, Mr. Atwater also began talking about the importance to baby boom voters of family, friends and community.

It was his attention to his own generation’s attitudes and interests, and his hope that attracting younger voters would help make Republicans the majority party, that led him as chairman of the National Committee to urge his party to move away from a rigid opposition to abortion."

But after Arkansas Democratic Gov. Bill Clinton won in 1992 while celebrating diversity, the meaner Gingrich/House Republicans capitalized on what angry GOP populist Patrick Buchanan called the "culture war" and re-took Congress in 1994. The partisan political grid-lock that ensued at one point shut down the government.

I cite this brief history because I suspect there might be a similar situation now - where the Republican Party can in fact become more "big tent" inclusive - or become enthralled by the Tea Party conservatives, who don't seem particularly cohesive.

Today, there appears to be a greater opportunity for gay participation in the Republican Party. Despite continued outreach, the GOP has a problem bringing in black voters - though that might be changing with the new black middle class. Latinos are actually more conservative as a group and therefore a soft voter target. But after the ugly, racist Atwater-esque political ads for the anti-immigrant Prop 187, an initiative supported by California Gov. Pete Wilson - the GOP lost the trust of the Latino community. That tension has only been aggravated recent by tactics such as Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer's "papers please" documents law.

One issue around which black and Latino religious conservatives could agree with the GOP was their vociferous stand against marriage equality and other LGBT rights. Karl Rove and his RNC buddy Ken Mehlman saw that and helped turn out the vote by shaping antigay initiatives around the country in 2004. But let's not forget that Bush's opponent that year, Sen. John Kerry, told lesbian reporter Lisa Keen that he also supported the right of states to pass constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage. (See here for an extended quote from the interview in the context of the 2008 elections). Mehlman came out as gay last August and expressed "regret" for his part in the antigay campaigns of 2004 and 2006.

In 2008, the elections were all about "change-agent" Barack Obama defeating one-time "maverick" John McCain for the presidency. But 2010 was all about the Republicans winning back control of the House, with the help of the loud grassroots Tea Party groups.

Columnist Jonathan Capehart

What went relatively unnoticed in all the hoopla was that self-identified LGBTs voted Republican in larger numbers than in 2008. In his Washington Post column on Nov. 4, the day after the election, Jonathan Capehart speculated whether GOP might mean "Gay Old Party."

"If you want more data that gay men and lesbians are pretty much just like everyone else — worried about the economy, freaked out about the direction of the country and perhaps ticked at the slow pace of change with regard to their civil rights — get a load of this exit poll result.

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals who self-identified to exit pollsters made up 3 percent of those casting ballots in House races on Tuesday, and 31 percent of them voted Republican. By itself, that number is amazing, especially when you consider that way too many people think being gay and voting Democratic are one in the same. But that percentage is ominous news for a White House viewed with suspicion by many gay men and lesbians, because that’s four percentage points higher than the change election of 2008.

Self-identified gays have been slowly sidling up to the GOP for a while now. In the 2008 presidential race, they made up four percent of the vote and gave 27 percent of their votes to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) against then-Sen. Barack Obama. In the 2006 midterm elections, when the House and Senate flipped to Democratic control, gays made up three percent of the electorate with the Republicans snagging 24 percent of their ballots. And in the 2004 presidential elections, President George W. Bush got 23 percent of the gay vote. They comprised four percent of those polled."

But it's not only the White House or the Democratic Party that's paying attention. Though self-identified LGBTs account for only between three or four percent of the national exit polling, the fact that between 23 percent and 31 percent of that vote goes Republican could mean a margin of difference both electorally and in campaign contributions.

And if the recent inclusion of Log Cabin members and other gay Republicans in RNC matters is a clue - the party leadership is trying to pull a Lee Atwater and shut down debate over social issues and secure those votes from LGBT conservatives.

I asked R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, about this after the DADT repeal was signed. Cooper was among a number of Republicans invited to the signing ceremony on Dec. 18. Also included were Dan Woods, the sterling straight attorney who won the six-year old LCR federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DADT in district court. Also there was Bob Kabel, LCR's first chairman of the board and now the RNC's state party chair for the District of Columbia who Cooper described as "politically a Big Dog Republican." Others were LCR deputy director Christian Berle and former LCR executive director Patrick Guerriero, representing the Gill Foundation.

Casey Pick, Clarke Cooper, Dan Woods, Christian Berle at the signing ceremony Photo courtesy Log Cabin Republicans

Cooper said the gay Republicans were "received warmly, but I don't (US Attorney General) Eric Holder rushed to shake Dan's hand."

It's unclear if anyone approached Holder about the Justice Department's defense of DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court.

Woods said he was "paying close attention" to the remarks made at the ceremony by Vice President Biden and President Obama "in the hope we might use them in the lawsuit as it continues. Vice president Biden said some things that are going to be very helpful. And the president actually said that the certification process is supposed to move 'swiftly.' He wants them to move swiftly - whatever that means."

Woods said that on Monday, Dec. 13, he spoke with Henry Whitaker, the DOJ attorney handling the appeal of the LRC case in the 9th Circuit. At that time,Woods said:

"they didn't know what their position was going to be yet. They're still having internal discussions about what they're going to do and we'll see. Their brief is due January 24 - which is just about a month from now. I am going to predict that the government is going to try to postpone that and stay the appeal and do all those things now that repeal has passed. I asked him if they did that - whether they would also agree to a ban on discharges. And they would not commit to that. So that's under discussion, I guess - but they're not committing to that and he actually told me that would be unlikely that the government would ever agree to that. So our lawsuit is alive and kicking."

Woods said he would probably call Whitaker sometime this week and say:

"Henry, I was there at the signing. I saw what the Vice President said. I saw what the President said. I saw the President urge people who had been discharged to reenlist. Why are you continuing with this? We ought to be able to work this out."

Woods said about the signing ceremony, "it was great to be part of history. And I appreciate that many people have said that our case made a difference in getting Don't ask, Don't Tell repealed. It was moving."

Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson with LCR's Clarke Cooper - Photo courtsey Log Cabin Republicans

He also said it was much like a "reunion from the trial" with experts such as Professors Aaron Belkin and Nathaniel Frank and servicemember witnesses Alex Nicholson, Mike Almy, and Joseph Roca - plus lawyers with whom Woods collaborated from Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "It was great for me to meet some more people working in other contexts to change the law. But overall it was a wonderful day to see this finally happen."

I asked Cooper if he felt the ceremony was in some ways transcendent of politics, given how many people worked together to make repeal happen. He agreed that on a "macro" level, "transcendence is a good descriptive" on a day when emotions ran high with "bon ami" (French for "good friend") and "no acrimony," other than the moment Obama referred to how much was done by the Democrats in the lame duck session.

Cooper is relatively optimistic about LCR's chances for winning over more Republicans to the pro-equality camp next year, especially after the revelations he expects from the DADT review and certification process:

"The statute and all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the repeal - it will turn out that it's a non-issue. And so for the Republicans that were on the fence during the votes, who were worried to vote in favor, will see that there were no negative consequences. It's unfortunate that there were some Republicans we did not get in the House and there were some we did not get in the Senate who were wavering until the last minute. And I would like to think that seeing this implementation succeed will help them further along in becoming more reachable and more approachable on other equality matters like an Employment Non-Discrimination Act. So there is some wind in our sails - so to speak, in the broader community and having this pass does help me build a stronger caucus of pro-equality Republicans within the party."

But Cooper says much of how the GOP behaves will be up to the leadership. He said:

"One of the things the Republican Party has to deal with in the 112th is keeping discipline and on the House side where we have the majority - [incoming Speaker] John Boehner knows that he's going to have to ride herd on that freshman class. But the eight Republicans that voted in favor of repeal - 15 in the House – and remember also we had three abstentions in the Senate so when you look at legislative nuancing, those are three other Republicans that didn't vote against repeal. So that said - primary challengers out there might try to use support of repeal against some of these House members and senators. But we have people that Log Cabin Republicans endorsed who won handily and ran against social conservatives. In New York - Richard Hanna and Nan Hayworth ran against social conservatives and won.

So there is a place for everybody in the party and one of the things that's going to be a challenge for Republican leadership - for the John Boehners, for the Mitch McConnells - is to make sure that the Republicans who are in the pro-equality caucus are able to operate within the party and within the greater GOP caucus without any hindrance.

There are going to be some who are going to be upset by that. But I can tell you - last week I met with the chairman of the Republican Study committee - and that's headed up by a social conservative - Congressman Jordan from Northwestern Ohio - and his sole focus, his priorities are all economic, are all deficit reduction, all balancing the budget. There's nothing that's on his agenda that's social. So I met with a social conservative who talked about nothing other than fiscal policy.

I was in a meeting with other peers - my counterparts from the National Rifle Association, my counterpart from Republicans Abroad, from the Heritage Foundation. It was essentially looking at the priorities for the next Congress and everything that was laid out before us was all economic or fiscally-related. There was nothing on there regarding a social agenda. It very good to know."

Cooper said LCR is recognized as part of the RNC coalitions:

“In fact - in every kind of coalition meeting there is - I'm always at the table and I'm at the table with my peers, my counterparts, not only in the RNC but you know - Pete Sessions, even though he does not have an equality record - he included Log Cabin in every single Young Guns event that occurred during the election cycle this year. And Sen. Cornyn, who, again, has an abysmal equality record - has participated in raising money for the pro-equality candidates we endorsed.

So we are very much part of the party body - we're part of the institution. And so that's good news for gay conservatives; that's good news for fiscal conservatives who are more Libertarian when it comes to social issues.

I know there are people who say we're apologists or deniers - but we're not. We support pro-equality Republicans and we hold those aren't accountable – and we're a necessary part of the party. We're needed and those who are politically savvy enough know that.

And so I know there are times Log Cabin is present or in the room sometimes out of political expediency or pragmatism - but that's OK. I come from a world of Realpolitik. I'm a student of Henry Kissinger - I get it. I'm not so much as getting the kumbaya warm feelings as long as we are participants and we can effect positive change and build an inclusive party - that's fine. I'm not looking for a hug here."

LCR's Cooper salutes President Obama after signing ceremony Photo courtesy the White House

At the end of the signing ceremony, Cooper, an active duty Captain in the Army Reserves, saluted his Commander-in-Chief on the rope line. Cooper remembers the conversation this way:

The president shook my hand and said, 'Congratulations, well done.' And I said, 'Thank you. You said we needed to get votes – we got more than enough.' And he said, 'Yes, you did."

While LGBT Democrats may be loath to give Republicans any credit for repealing DADT - other than Sen. Susan Collins and LCR attorney Dan Woods - it might behoove the LGBT progressive leadership to consider working on some sort of bipartisan agreement to cease and desist on the usual acrimony and seek compromise - setting aside ideological differences in order to focus on LGBT equality for the next few years. Otherwise LGBTs are doomed to another long period in the political wilderness.

Crossposted at LGBT POV

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Great report, Karen.

And that's a nice picture of Cooper saluting President Obama.

And just to back you up one of the non-gay items that you mentioned...

Non-white college grads were 9% of the electorate in both the 2008 and 2010 House races. 76% of non-white college graduates voted for the Democrat in 2008 and 71% of non-white college grads voted for the Democrat in the 2010 midterm elections Tuesday.

As far as your overall question, much of the acrimony of late between LCR's and progressive LGBT's had to to with LCR's endorsement of Patrick Murphy's opponent in that House race (I do think that much of the acrimony is reserved for GOProud).

I think that an accord could be reached provided that the LCR-Murphy typew fiasco doesn't happen again (i.e. LCR's endorsement of McCain/Palin)

20% of non-white college grads voted for the Republican in 2008 House races.

In the 2010 midterms, 27% of non-white college grads voted for the Republican.

So you're right about the trend that's starting to show.

The fact is that the GOP will not be able to sustain itself electorally too much longer (I say 2 presidential election cycles at the most) as a bastion of white straight men.

They will have to reach out.

Karen is someone I immensely respect, both as a writer and a person, and I trust her good intentions behind this article. She has been very kind to me in some of her articles, and I hate to have to disagree with her so strongly.

But first, no, despite the claim that one assumes, like several of the photos, came from Mr. Cooper, Ms. Collins did not get anywhere near the ovation that Cong. Murphy got as documented in the video at the link below of the event, beginning at approximately the 12:15 point. Applause for Ms. Collins lasted approximately 15 seconds. Cong. Murphy's loud, standing ovation lasted approximately 49 seconds—over three times as long.


And that was as well it should. And not just because Collins TWICE chose to follow Repug marching orders and joined that herd in being an obstacle to beginning debate on the bill, but also for refusing to personally sponsor a repeal bill herself over the last five years as professionals in DC who trusted her good will urged her to do as a "moderate conservative" more palatable than the same bill sponsored by, e.g., Ted Kennedy who would have submitted a Senate version years before his death but for holding out the hope that Collins would. Her refusal was one of many reasons no vote could happen last year at all, and her indefensible obstructionism in September and early December helped drive the final one to the brink of failure at the last second.

If nongay Repugs were as impressed by Mr. Cooper as he is himself, perhaps we could expect some change. But there is no evidence they are. Eight Republican Senators voted for the repeal option. HOORAY. And THIRTY-ONE voted against it. In the House, fifteen Republicans voted for the repeal option. And ONE HUNDRED & SIXTY voted against it. And, as we all know, the House will be controlled starting January 5th by Repugs who won't let a SINGLE gay issue even come to a vote despite his predictions to the contrary.

AT LEAST two things weaken Cooper’s credibility as a fortune teller.

1. His suggestion on Facebook December 15th that he had just personally “secured” two Republican votes for the bill in the House, Cong. Ros-Lehtinen and Cong. Biggert, when, in fact, both were unwavering supporters of repeal, and one of them, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen had also been an official cosponsor of such legislation since 2005. Cooper once worked for Ros-Lehtinen so he might try to take credit for having convinced her years ago, but it's hard to see that intent in his word choice.

2. He told Karen in a November interview that Repugs would likely help pass ENDA by this New Year’s. They’d better hurry.

Left out of Karen’s history of gays and the GOP is the more recent informative story of the well-heeled/well-connected “Austin 12” who supported George Bush fils for POTUS believing he would help them erect that “big tent.” Soon, they formed the Republican Unity Coalition [RUC] which despite support by no less than former President Jerry Ford, Sen. Alan Simpson, David Rockefeller, et al., failed to make any headway and dissolved. If anything, the current leaders of the Party are even more Right Wing and homophobic than they were when the RUC existed.

It is NOT that non-Repug gays don't want to work together, but we have been burned again and again and again—just as gay Repug members of RUC were. I agree "progressive Dems and gay GOPs should work together to keep their eyes on the agreed-upon prize - equal rights" BUT that, transparently, is NOT Mr. Cooper's prize. Rather his is Repug control FIRST as evidenced by his org's shameful endorsement of a Repug over Murphy. In the shaky ground already trod, Mr. Cooper bleats that his opponent would be an ally we could count on. Sorry, one and all, I'll take a proven ally in the hand rather than one in the proverbial bush...or Bush, the "compassionate conservative."

Ken “Blood Diamond” Mehlman is another example, having given thousands of dollars for the midterm election/reelection of Repugs rabidly opposed to not just DADT repeal but his own new-found cause, marriage equality.

In short, they may often disappoint us, as Obama has in excelsis, but, as demonstrated by the number of Dems who voted for the repeal option vs. the number of Repugs who did, our energies could be better spent electing and reelecting a progressive Dem majority than trying to turn the sow's ear that is the majority of Repugs—now and for years to come—into a silk purse.

Finally, while I agree that the possibility that the anti ban ruling in the LCR lawsuit might be upheld played SOME role in passage, two facts keep getting left out in all the posing for statues.

1. The “Witt” decision also played a role, and it was associated with neither Party or their supporters.

2. Belief in the idea encouraged by LCR that theirs was the first ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional is nonsense. More than one previous case, e.g., Ben-Shalom, Watkins, Meinhold, resulted in such rulings, including at the Circuit level, but at least that part of the rulings were reversed on appeal.

Dear Michael,

I don’t blame you for being a stalwart progressive democrat at all, In fact I applaud you for it but are you willing to give up the possibility of winning passage of Inclusive ENDA and repeal of DOMA next year just to get more democrats elected or are you willing to stand with a coalition of people, however flawed, and at least try?

There’s no question that most of the blame for the recent lack of progress for our issues lies with my republican party but you ignore the “blue dog” conserva-dems role. It was Barney Frank who threw Inclusive ENDA “under the bus” not republicans!

We can go back and forth with the “blame game” for another 2 years, which right now seems the likely course, or as Karen’s post implies, we can build coalitions to get the votes we need now.

I’m thinking of my transgender friend Jenn serving in Afghanistan right now and millions more LGBT people who will loose jobs and housing while their birthrights to marry as they choose are still denied.

Michael, I’m not asking you to give up your core beliefs or to stop pointing your finger at the “repugs” when it suits you. I hope you would be willing to work with anyone willing to help us end the pernicious denial of all LGBT birthrights.


An old friend, Sen. Birch Bayh, used to remark about "supporters" of his:

"We don't care when they got on the train, as long as they got on before it left the station. But we do look at postmarks."

Loosely recalled, with allowance for a couple of decades of memory lapse, the gist was:

We'll take your support, but we won't forget when it came.

Michael is absolutely right. Sens. Collins, Snowe, et al, and my own Sen. Lugar, participated in that filthy cloture process on this issue. They should be ashamed of that action.

As much as they should be proud of their ultimate votes. And we shouldn't let them forget either vote. Ever.

I'm afraid that this huge ovation, and the praise heaped upon some of them, will encourage them to remain steadfastly clotured when McConnell cracks his strengthened whip in January.

If so, a pox on them.

If not, well...we'll look at the postmarks.

Dear Karen,

You nailed it! Your post here on Bilerico should be required reading for all voters. Your explanation of how my beloved GOP was slowly taken over by what I call the “religious fascists” is spot on! Most republicans with any knowledge of history already know that the term “states rights” was used exclusively by democrats who deliberately sought to perpetuate the denial of African American birthrights which is why republicans provided the votes LBJ needed for passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the mid 1960’s. The only “tweak” I would offer to your post is that it was Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” that cultivated support from religious fascist democrats then recruited them to become republican which finally led to some of today’s republicans use of the term “states rights.” Republicans who use the term “states rights” today want political cover on abortion and LGBT birthrights, but as you point out in your post they don’t want to loose our votes.

I was a radio network reporter and anchor during the ’88 presidential election and covered the ’92 election as news director for a major statewide station. I interviewed then Vice President George H. W. Bush and Governor Michael Dukakis one on one for the ’88 Campaign and President Bush (41) again in ’92 though I only had access to Jim Carville of candidate Bill Clinton’s staff in 92. That said, I know today’s national republican leadership does not want to even mildly base the 2012 election cycle on abortion or LGBT birthrights, in fact they want to avoid this like the plague!

The gist of your post is absolutely correct! I’m convinced we can win passage of Inclusive ENDA and repeal of DOMA in both the house and senate during the 112th congress but we must build the coalition right now then get both to floor votes next year.

Thank you Karen for your extraordinary reporting,


Still much blatant anti-gay rhetoric in the GOP.

To wit: the criminalization of homosexuality planks in the official GOP platforms of Montana and Texas.

Where are the Log Cabin Republicans when we need them?


Dear D Gregory,

You’re correct about the GOP platform planks but even the late Ted Kennedy often reached across the “aisle” to gain votes for many a just cause that true republicans, true conservatives like me would support. Karen simply asks the question “Will LGBT Progressives Work with Log Cabin Republicans?”

We know we should have the votes in the senate to pass Inclusive ENDA and repeal DOMA in the 112th congress and Karen makes an excellent case for seeking senate and house republican votes now. I ask, must we give up and do nothing and hope democrats regain control of the house and hopefully retain control of the senate and White House in 2012 while millions of LGBT people can be arbitrarily fired from their jobs, loose their housing while simultaneously our marriage equality birthrights are perniciously denied? Must all LGBT people become registered democrats?

Our LGBT community is no more politically monolithic than African and Hispanic Americans are. Every day we LGBT activists waste time pointing fingers in the “blame game” and that costs LGBT jobs, housing and marriage equality.

I think the question Karen really asks with great subtlety is whether or not it’s more important who gets credit for LGBT progress than LGBT progress itself.

I personally don’t care how many democrats, republicans or independents get credit for finally enforcing all of our birthrights so long as we win enforcement. Our fight is an American fight for justice not a democrat or republican fight for bragging rights.

FYI, I love your first name “D Gregory” and I’m sure from what you wrote you’re a kind genteel man so please don’t be insulted but your name reminded me that J Edgar Hoover was transgender. I genuinely hope you got a chuckle from that, it’s just the way my brain works. Even if you disagree totally with everything I’ve written here I’m sure you respect what I’ve written. I’ve witnessed so much despair and depression amongst transgender people and experienced it myself. We’re so close to having all of our birthrights enforced and I believe from what you wrote you’re no less committed. Tip O’Neal and Ronald Reagan enjoyed a wonderful friendship. I sincerely want to count you and Michael (previous comment) as friends.


I did chuckle. Thanks...

But I still think a statement from LCR would have helped- the shame perpetuated by this silence shouldn't be underestimated. Karen did a great job explaining the process, but the reality is often farther removed....

Friends? Hell, yes!

I'm so happy with your reply but may I call you Greg? It's a tad easier to type.

Just so you know I'm one republican who is more than willing to hold LCR's feet to the fire on everything but right now I think we should be focused on ending LGBT suffering. We may fail but if we don't try we have no chance of succeeding. In the finest tradition of the late Ted Kennedy let's reach out to people who will or might support us. I'm confident that Boehner and Cantor in the house and McConnell in the senate won't enforce any "discipline" against republicans who vote with us if we move the process along.


I'm so happy with your reply but may I call you Greg? It's a tad easier to type.

Just so you know I'm one republican who is more than willing to hold LCR's feet to the fire on everything but right now I think we should be focused on ending LGBT suffering. We may fail but if we don't try we have no chance of succeeding. In the finest tradition of the late Ted Kennedy let's reach out to people who will or might support us. I'm confident that Boehner and Cantor in the house and McConnell in the senate won't enforce any "discipline" against republicans who vote with us if we move the process along.


There is one problem:

Log Cabin clout in the Republican Party
is not equal (not even close) to
HRC-Stonewall-GetEqual in the Democratic Party.

Sure it makes sense to do outreach to Republicans, but it would be wise to find different methods: local, personal, business...

On this:

What went relatively unnoticed in all the hoopla was that self-identified LGBTs voted Republican in larger numbers than in 2008. In his Washington Post column on Nov. 4, the day after the election, Jonathan Capehart speculated whether GOP might mean "Gay Old Party."

I doubt that happened, but the least we know is that we have no proof:


Jonathan Capehart's lazy journalism, as usual, muddles the issues for months while the truth can't seem to make it into his columns.

Thank you for such a balanced, nuanced discussion of the recent history of the national Republican Party. It is so easy to paint everything as an epic struggle between Good and Evil, whereas any fair treatment of history results in more of a tapestry, where events come together to form a larger picture.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | December 30, 2010 1:48 AM


I’d love to be so optimistic about working with Republicans, and hearing the Logs trumpet the sounds of equality as they wave the rainbow flag over their “big tent”! I hope I’m 100% wrong, but here is why I’m not so enthusiastic.

Republican leadership demands loyalty and when push comes to shove they get it! Look at the Hate Crimes Bill, the only fully inclusive explicit LGBT positive legislation that we have passed. Every single Republican in the House voted to “kill” the bill in a motion to recommit! Even the Republican sponsors voted against it! When that failed because the Democrats had a pure majority of votes, then 44 “so-called” equality Republicans voted for it! We were told we had the votes for ENDA, but it was left to die without a vote because of a Republican motion to poison it and kill it! Actually, here I have problems and criticisms with Democratic leadership on ENDA, but hey, did any Republicans make any positive moves?

Now, I’ve worked with Republicans in a bi-partisan manner in the passage of several LGBT pieces of legislation on a state level. With one notable exception, my experience has been quite positive and I even call some Republican officeholders “friends”.

The one notable exception here in NJ was about marriage. I believe that there were 6 or 7 Republicans prepared to vote for civil marriage after the 2009 election had Jon Corzine been re-elected. Gov-elect Christie said no, and all those Republicans flipped and voted “No”, save one, Bill Baroni … who was soon after induced to resign so that Christie would have all reliable Republican votes in the Senate…. And that was BEFORE he took office as Governor. (A Republican friend who has long term relationships with several senior legislators, was unable to cash in IOUs in this case).

A bill regarding low income womens health (which included some family planning services passed the NJ Senate by a super-majority with wide bipartisan support. When the same bill came up for a vote in the Assembly, it passed with only the Democratic majority and Gov. Christie vetoed it… no matter that 7.5 million would translate to an extra 20+ million in Fed funding. Republican Senators got the word … after voting for the bill, they refused to vote for it to override the Gov’s veto … another flip-flop!

I’ve had ongoing discussions with Republican friends and I’d love to see them not play games and come out and support LGBT equality bills… I’d be the first to give them credit … but anyone can plainly see that historically it would not be a good bet.

I’ll be honest… after seeing how ENDA was managed in the past, I’d love to see a new bill, a bit more comprehensive perhaps with housing and public accommodations in addition to employment, and with new, more aggressive and tenacious sponsors … to give it a new, fresh look and a new strategy.

So, Republicans … bring it on if you can! And to the Log Cabin Republicans who never mention a word about either transgender or bisexual Americans. Where are you on full LGBT inclusion and the concept of gender identity non-discrimination? Ironically, I know several politically astute and savvy transpeople who are registered Republicans and who identify with the “classic” Republican philosophy.

I’d love to see a real bi-partisan movement, and I’ll be the first to jump in and try and work together to get “it done”! I've worked successfully in a bipartisan manner on a state level and have lobbied successfully with Republicans on LGBT and non LGBT issues … Hey, I’m an American FIRST!

But, you’ll have to excuse me for being skeptical of John Boehner and Eric Cantor … and wanting to follow the advice of Ronald Reagan, “trust … but verify!”

Orange County Kevin | January 3, 2011 1:36 PM

Wow. Great report, Karen!