I have long advocated privately and publicly for tolerance among LGBT Democrats for the work of LGBT Republicans. It’s always been a touchy subject, with LGBT Democrats at a loss for how someone in their community could actually be a Republican. The Log Cabins, and now GOProud, have argued that they are building tolerance within the Republican Party and that they are conservatives that care about more than simply LGBT issues.
For years, I have desperately wanted them to play a role in the Republican Party that would bring them along on issues of equality. The time may have come that they have become irrelevant to the process. Republicans will control the U.S. House in the new Congress, by a smaller margin than before, yet this simple fact has caused an entire movement to assume any LGBT legislation is dead on arrival for the next two years. This fact alone shows that LGBT Republicans have been a failure.
Why, after decades of having a presence can they not show any progress in finding Republicans in Congress that will publicly support issues of equality. As of this past Congress, only one Republican was a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus. Only 18 voted for the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Bill. Only 8 voted for repeal of DADT. Less than a dozen signed on as co-sponsor of ENDA. A grand sum of one Republican has signed onto legislation to repeal DOMA.
Log Cabin Republicans, the more moderate of the two LGBT Republican groups, offered a “qualified endorsement” of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President. It seemed to be half-hearted, but it was an endorsement nonetheless. This was in spite of Mitt Romney supporting a Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, among many other anti-LGBT positions. In the past, Log Cabin had withheld its endorsement of George W. Bush’s re-election specifically because of his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment.
When Log Cabin did this, they made themselves largely irrelevant in national politics. GOProud wasn’t even on the radar for reason in this election cycle, going so far as to endorse not only anti-equality Mitt Romney, but to endorse lesbian U.S. Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin’s opponent in Wisconsin, a man who has long held anti-equality positions.
While I sometimes truly believed these groups were going to make a difference in their Party, instead, the public may outpace these two organizations in moving the Republican Party. Rather than changing from within, this election has sent a signal to Republicans that their position on social issues is costing them votes that could have made the difference in winning and losing.
Public support for ENDA, DADT repeal, hate crimes and even marriage equality have long outpaced the positions of both major parties, though the Democratic Party has always been far ahead of Republicans. Now, the Democratic Party is solidly in the camp of full civil equality for LGBT people, bringing it in line with public polling. The Republican Party is nowhere close.
I hate to admit it, but I may have been wrong. Log Cabin and GOProud may be actually holding our movement back from achieving equality. Depending on the data you read, somewhere around 25% of LGBT voters cast a vote for Mitt Romney. This is likely partially because of the work of LCR and GOProud. In some close Congressional races, this may have provided the margin of victory for a pro-equality candidate. Yet, we are faced with two more years without ENDA or DOMA repeal.
LGBT Republicans need do some serious soul searching and figure out if they are helping or hurting the cause of equality. I’d like to think they were helping it, but I just don’t see the evidence.