Do Gay Republicans Live in an Alternative Reality?

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I’m trying to get caught up on old episodes of Lost, the television show about a group of plane crash survivors who become stranded on a deserted island. As time goes on throughout the show, unusual and paranormal events become more and more frequent, prompting fans of the show to ask many questions and posit countless theories over the years. Why is there a polar bear on an island? What is the smoke monster? How do the characters time travel? Does Lost take place in a parallel dimension? Is this an alternative universe? What the hell is going on?

Fortunately, it is only television. It isn’t real. Regardless of how the show ends, we can be grateful that we live in the present, know the truth, and do not live in an alternative reality. Except, of course, for gay Republicans.

As a full disclosure, I have been a Democrat for nearly as long as I’ve been gay. In fact, I registered to be gay on my 18th birthday, only weeks before I registered with the Democratic Party. However, as time has gone on I’ve joined the ranks of other disillusioned gay Americans who feel the Democratic Party is the lesser of many evils. As part of its lukewarm strategy to appeal to as many Americans as possible, the Democratic Party refuses to take strong stands on issues such as same-sex marriage, and gay men and women serving in the military. We’ve heard the excuses before: “Now is not the time for gay marriage … we do not have enough political capital … the poll numbers do not support it … we must study “don’t ask don’t tell” for a year before making a decision … would you like to make a donation to my reelection campaign?”

Gay men and women settling for the Democratic Party is akin to making an omelet and ignoring the broken egg shells — it’s not perfect, but it’s edible. So why do some gay men and women join the Republican Party, who actively spits and defecates in their omelet? Why do some gay men and women want so desperately to love a political party that does not love them in return?

Do they live in an alternative reality? Or is there a method behind their madness?

The Log Cabin Republicans is a federated gay and lesbian political organization, founded in 1977 in California.  Members of the group support Republican issues and Republican candidates, and include such high-profile members as television producer Marc Cherry, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin, former Rep. Michael Huffington (of California), former Arizona State Rep. Steve May, former Rep. Jim Kolbe (of Arizona), and former Rep. Steve Gunderson (of Wisconsin). In theory, the existence of such a group makes perfect sense. According to the Log Cabin Republicans’ website:

We believe in low taxes, limited government, strong defense, free markets, personal responsibility, and individual liberty. Log Cabin represents an important part of the American family — taxpaying, hard working people who proudly believe in this nation’s greatness.
Low taxes, limited government, strong defense, free markets, personal responsibility. While these are basic tenets of the Republican Party, they are also beliefs with which most Americans — regardless of political party or sexual orientation — would agree. In fact, I had a conversation with a gay Republican several weeks ago who expressed frustration over President Obama’s healthcare bill, as he felt that that it interfered with personal responsibility and individual liberty.

Personal responsibility and individual liberty — is that not what most gay men and women desire? Therefore, in theory the existence of the Log Cabin Republicans makes perfect sense. In theory, in idea, and in a utopia.

Unfortunately, and inconveniently, the United States of Utopia does not exist.

The Log Cabin Republicans have a long and thorny history with Republican candidates and politicians, who have long dismissed the LCR’s endorsements, rejected their requests, and even returned its members’ donations. In 1995, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole returned the LCR’s $1,000 campaign contribution. Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a 2005 bill that would have made gay marriage legal in California — only to receive $10,000 from the LCR the following year for his reelection campaign. The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008, despite McCain’s wavering opinion on “don’t ask don’t tell.” And this past February at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Ryan Sorba of Young Americans for Freedom said he “condemns CPAC” for inviting GOProud to the conference, a political group which represents gay conservatives.

I may not always agree with the Democratic Party, but I’ll most likely never understand the Republican Party. In a political era in which gay men and women consistently feel as though they’re taking two step forwards (Iowa, Vermont) and one step back (California), they need political parties who will do more than simply take their money and their votes. At times I feel so frustrated, that I wish I could escape our political parties’ hypocrisy by running away to a deserted island.

But only if the island doesn’t have any polar bears.

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One Comment

  1. You make a number of good points, but I would like to expand a few of them.

    First, I am a Log Cabin member and agree with your ending statement. While the democratic party is more friendly to GLBT issues, like Republicans, most of the democratic leadership are against marriage equality. They prefer civil unions. separate is not equal. The greatest support comes from local and state level elected officials that clearly support GLBT equality. As a party we Republicans are far behind in that area, but working on it. This year for example we endorsed the Herbert/Bell ticket and the endorsement was welcomed and wanted by the governor. We see that as progress.

    In all major movements in our recent history, from wilderness protections at the turn of the last century to civil rights in the 60’s to GLBT issues today, it takes people from all areas of the political arena to enact change. We have a lot of work to do, but again strides are being made. Many prominent republicans support allowing gays to openly serve in the military. Some including Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Jon Huntsman support some form of marriage equality.

    In all cases where same sex marriage was approved by legislatures last year it took republicans voting for these measures for them pass.

    At the CPAC convention you are right that one man condemned inviting GOProud to the event. What you missed was that he was booed off the stage for that comment.

    We republicans are behind on GLBT issues, no doubt, and the work to improve the environment for us is difficult, but I firmly believe it is possible. Neither party has a lock on this issue and if we are to achieve complete equality, then it will take many of us on both sides of the isle, working hand in hand to finally break the barrier and achieve our goals.

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