LGBT conservatives in the time of Trump
With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th US president, expect battle lines to be drawn with the LGBT conservatives jockeying for position in the incoming administration.
Given that the LGBT Republicans have been scattered in the run-up to the last elections and placed on the fringe during the last eight Obama years, they now say it’s their time to shine.
Likewise, they expect the new president will be supportive of the LGBTQ community.
“If you go all the way back to 2004 when George W. Bush had proposed a constitutional amendment [to ban same-sex] marriage to today, where the Supreme Court has ruled and President-elect Trump has said that’s settled law, that’s an enormous change,” Robert Kabel, a gay member of the Republican National Committee, told Washington Blade.
The question is: will these conservative groups prove to be a factor in a Trump administration? More importantly, will they protect the interests of the LGBTQ community– or their own?
LGBT conservatives fighting for a place
The Log Cabin Republican, regarded as the most famous among the conservative LGBT groups, is proud that they are already engaging with the Trump transition team as the new government is formed.
Given that they’ve been cultivating this relationship for a long time, this will prove a distinct advantage for conservative LGBT groups– like Log Cabin, American Unity Fund, LGBT for Trump, and Gays for Trump– as compared to their more liberal counterparts.
“For decades, the push for LGBT equality in the United States was defined almost exclusively by the left,” Log Cabin Republican president Gregory T. Angelo told BuzzFeed News.
“But LGBT leaders who represent our interests didn’t even try to form a relationship with the president-elect while he was running for office– that is astounding to me,” Angelo added.
As an example, Angelo related that they’ve been invited to brief Trump’s people to preserve an executive order that banned LGBTQ discrimination in federal contracts. This order had been signed by then-President Obama.
Moreover, these LGBT groups want to make deals with Trump and the Republican-led Congress to push their version of LGBTQ advocacy while traditional LGBTQ groups like Human Rights Watch are left out in the cold.
However, BuzzFeed News also relayed that transition officials didn’t comment on the claims made by conservative LGBT groups.
LGBT conservatives: Advocacy with a twist
These LGBT conservative groups have said they would be able to steer the Republicans away from any hardline positions and into deals that the Democrats wouldn’t take.
For example, Jose Cunningham, chair of the DC Republican Party, told Washington Blade that Trump’s team has been working to “water down” anti-LGBTQ language in the GOP platform .
However, any deals these groups would make will be problematic for progressives: for example, any LGBT non-discrimination bill they would lobby in Congress would include religious objection exemptions.
Likewise, they still share conservative goals with their party like removing the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) and cutting taxes.
“We will be making a case for things like Obamacare repeal, death-tax repeal, fighting radical Islamic terrorism in the US — issues that henceforth have rarely been viewed through the prism of the LGBT community” Angelo said.
Likewise, Jill Homan, a lesbian Republican Committeewoman told Washington Blade: “When you say LGBT issues I think it’s broader than one particular issue like same-sex marriage. We have families.”
“The strategy and the tactics that we pursue may be different. Whether folks want to believe it or not, I do have the interest of all LGBT people at heart,” Angelo said.