Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

What The Exclusion of Presidential Candidate Fred Karger Means

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 24, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Fred Karger, GOP, GOP convention, homophobic behavior, presidential candidates

Fred KargerA story today in the San Francisco Chronicle details the story of the exclusion of openly-gay Presidential Candidate Fred Karger from the California State GOP Convention.

Karger has also been excluded from the Fox News Republican Presidential debates, despite his polling at the 1% level in several national polls, a requirement for inclusion. He recently polled at 2%, tying with Pawlenty and Huntsman, while outpolling Santorum. In a recent Zogby Poll, Karger tied Gingrich. Fox News denied him after "clarifying" their rules to include only certain types of polls. He has also been excluded from an upcoming Presidential debate at the Reagan Library in California. His spokesman noted that Republican party officials often don't even return the campaign's phone calls.

Why has Fred Karger been excluded from the State GOP Convention? Is it because he is not a credible candidate, as some have suggested? Or is that just a pretext for homophobia?

If he were being denied access to these events because he is not a credible candidate, then I would expect that to be given as a reason for his exclusion. That is what people do when they have a valid reason for excluding you. They explain why.

However, the reason given for Karger's exclusion is not that his candidacy isn't "credible." Instead, all these coy little reasons are being given. The reason given by a Republican party official for the latest exclusion from the California State GOP Convention was this:

"The schedule is completely filled."

Here's another example from the story:

Karger was all set to attend the national Conservative Political Action Conference, where he had arranged for a booth and even provided his credit card to pay for it. He was surprised to get a call saying "Fred was no longer invited ... because there were no booths available," Miniter said.

Miniter called to check - inquiring about booth rental for another group - and suddenly, "they were more than happy to rent to us," he said.

In regard to the upcoming GOP convention, state GOP officials refused to give any reason at all for Karger's exclusion to reporters, dismissing the discussion by saying they did not want to "negotiate in the press," and refusing even to give their name to the reporter.

As a transgender person who is subject to exclusion myself, and as an attorney and professor in the area of transgender employment law, believe me when I tell you that I know what a pretext sounds like.

Fred Karger's exclusion is nothing more than homphobia, pure and simple. He's not being excluded because he's not credible. He has quite a resume in the political area. He's polling above with and above some other credible candidates. The reasons given for his exclusion on each occasion was different and does not match up with the argument that his is not a "credible" candidacy, unless Republicans define "credible" as including the phrase "not gay".

The Republican party is homophobic. Fred Karger is being excluded because the Republican party cannot stand gay people. And they know they can get away with it. The media at large doesn't see it as a major story because, duh, the Republican party is filled with homophobes. The words "prejudiced" and "bigot" apply here. But when you're gay or transgender, people wink and nod and smile to one another and say, oh, "he's not a fit for our company," and tell butt jokes in the back room after the interview. It's so endemic that it's not even really news. It's the same reason that you never saw newspaper stories about the exclusion of African-Americans in the early part of the twentieth century. It's not news. And homophobia is not news today. It's just part of the world we live in. That's why the fight for civil rights for LGBT people is more important than ever. We've just begun to make some progress, and we are far, far from the finish line. That's what the exclusion of Presidential Candidate Fred Karger means. And that is why his candidacy is so important for the LGBT movement. The treatment he's receiving is the treatment so many of us receive every day -- exclusion, pretextual reasons, stout denials of homophobia and transphobia, and winks and nods in the back room.

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I think Karger is serving an unimportant, but unacknowledged purpose.

He is a living reminder of the moronic homophobia of the vast majority of the Rethugnican Party.

He is walking bad publicity for his Party as his existence reminds us of the bigotry at the heart of the Rethugnicans.

Exactly. His politics make my stomach churn, but I can't help but feel bad for him and appreciate what he's doing. Of course, after the paragraph about discrimination ends and the subject of his political beliefs begin it almost evaporates. Social progress, everyone!

Angela Brightfeather | August 24, 2011 11:01 AM

We all can blog about this until the cows come home. But where is HRC, NGLTF, Lambda Legal, LCR, and many other of the groups in DC on this? Why aren't they hitting the media, putting out press releases, forcing the issue and making it more public. Where are the telephone numbers and email address to call or write the National GOP headquarters and others on this so that people can call directly and complain? Finally, where are our friends in industry who claim to be so inclusive like IBM, GE, Microsoft, Dell, NBC and others and why aren't they complaining or refusing their donations to the GOP because of their homophobia and exclusion?

If you ask me, the only way to fight against homophobia of this type is to fight it in the open and plan an offense against it. The big reason why it still exists the way it does and is still so prevalent behind closed doors is because we allow it to be that way. No one is leading and everyone is acting to smug and waiting in the incremental lineup of issues, instead of having any time to pay to this issue. The right to marry, once again trumps the right of one individual gay man to run for the highest office in America or appear on stage in the GOP debates to show that not all GLBT people are consumed with the idea of marrying each other and that we have other issues and are interested in larger problems in America that affect everyone. God forbid that someone besides Huntsman, who is Republican, says that we can all live together in some fashion without the homophobia.

Or perhaps this is a case of reverse discrimination. In other words, don't even bother with the Republicans, everyone knows their homophobs and that will never change, so don't waste your time and keep them out of our intended interests.....which is dead wrong. We all know many Republicans who work with, hire and are not homophobic towards GLBT people, including members of our own families. Not all of them are religious zealots and the truth is that the majority probably are not. Heaven forbid that we put this out on the table in the light of day to discuss.

The only thing that Fred Karger seems to lack in his attempt to run for President, is a concerned and organized community of constituents behind him who are willing to help him fight for his rights and that don't believe that it isn't his time yet.

Of course as Trans people, we know what that feels like also don't we Jillian? So add that to the list of what we have in common with Mr. Karger.

Or perhaps this is a case of reverse discrimination. In other words, don't even bother with the Republicans, everyone knows their homophobs and that will never change, so don't waste your time and keep them out of our intended interests.

That's not "reverse discrimination", it's reality. The Republican Party is staunchly homophobic and transphobic, and there is no realistic likelihood of that changing until maybe in a few election cycles when the Tea Party crashes and burns. Until then, who gives a fuck what the Republicans do?

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | August 24, 2011 11:16 PM

This is a matter for Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud people and the bipartisan groups and of course Republicans! I wish him well in his quest to he seen and heard. There is one out gay person on the RNC, as an American, I would hope he stands up for his rights.

I think Fred is performing a very important function. He is a visible example for the Log Cabin Republicans and the GOProud that they will never be part of the Republican Party, no matter how much they have the same Conservative economic and government growth views.

I ..I actually feel for Mr. Karger. Yes he's as qualified as everyone else in that clown car the GOP is running around in. Yes its obvious that the GOP is ignoring him because he's Gay, but hell they would do the same to him if he were non-White or non-Christian as well. Yes it may seem like I'm a sell out but I wish the man well. He's capable enough that he could very well pull a VP nod.
No I don't agree with his politics, but I don't agree with his 'party' of choice treating him like this either. Who knows? Maybe he'll realize that his party isn't HIS party at all.

State GOP reverses course: Fred Karger, openly gay 2012 candidate, invited to speak at Sept. state convention

"Karger said as of late yesterday [Tuesday, August 23], GOP officials offered him a chance to speak and introduce himself to GOP delegates at a Saturday pre-luncheon event and other gatherings during the party's upcoming weekend."