By now, most everybody knows that the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, an LGBTQ Republican organization, have once again had their request denied to have a booth at the Texas GOP state convention, set for May 14-16 in Houston. I — like most people, I think — was not the least bit surprised to hear this news. After all, Log Cabin has been asking for a booth at the state convention, and state GOP officials have been telling them no for as long as I can remember.
My first reaction — again, like most people’s, I think — was, so what? Why does Log Cabin keep trying? And how on earth can any self-respecting LGBTQ person identify as Republican in the first place? Especially these days, when our community — and in particular, transgender people, the most vulnerable segment of our community — are being targeted right and left with hate and discrimination.
That’s my first reaction. But when I stop to think about it, I have to admit, I am wrong to be so dismissive and judgmental.
First of all, this year wasn’t just like all the years before. There were a couple of significant differences, as Marco Roberts, board secretary for Log Cabin Republicans of Texas and president of Log Cabin Republicans of Houston, points out.
This year, Roberts told me, Log Cabin had two applications before the state party: The first was the usual request to have a booth at the convention, and the second one, a “brand new” request, was an application for coalition status.
“The Republican Party of Texas has a couple of ways to associate with them,” Roberts explained to me in a recent telephone interview. “One is as an auxiliary, but now there is a brand-new category called a coalition. … It is a less involved association.”
Both applications fell short. But, Roberts stressed, neither was rejected outright.
“That is a point that I hope doesn’t get missed in all of this,” he said. The applications were not voted down; they were tabled.
And yes, the outcome is the same: Log Cabin won’t get a booth at the convention, and the LGBTQ organization won’t be given coalition status. At least, not right now. But Roberts believes that this year’s vote is a hopeful sign for the future.
“We had a significant measure of support, not just from the party as a whole, but from different organizations and different leaders across Texas,” he told me.
Supporters included Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who is “very socially conservative but who also believes the party should be reaching out to every possible voter,” as well as a number of party officials, especially younger Republicans.
In fact, Roberts believes Log Cabin probably had more supporters than detractors. But, “there are a lot of arcane rules that come into play, and opponents can use those rules and maneuvers to table a vote or sideline it. In the end, rather than have a vote specifically against Log Cabin Republicans, the better choice was to table it,” he said.
This whole process, Roberts said, signals that change is happening. “There is a new generation of folks coming in, and things will change,” he told me. “Our country is becoming much more diverse, not just ethnically but in our beliefs, too. A growing number of Republicans recognize this. And I believe that with each subsequent vote, the numbers in our favor will continue to grow.”
I agree with Mr. Roberts: Change is happening. But is it happening fast enough? Are we moving forward fast enough to overcome the backlash that always accompanies progress — the kind of backlash I think the Trump administration exemplifies?
Roberts disagrees that Trump and his administration are anti-LGBTQ. “Donald Trump waved the Pride flag in a way no [Republican] candidate has ever done at a convention. He initiated a global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. No candidate has ever done that, either. I would say he’s not just not anti-gay, but that he is actually pro-gay.”
Roberts added, “Trump is a strange political mutant, the kind of actor we’ve never seen before in politics. He is very disruptive, but in that disruption can make things possible that have never been possible before.”
Personally, I believe that any pro-LGBTQ actions Trump’ has taken have been surface-level pandering with no lasting or significant impact. Anything positive he may have done for our community or for individual LGBTQ people has been more than outweighed by the negative policies put in place and actions taken by Trump or those in his administration.
I see nothing positive in or about Donald Trump. He is a failed businessman and a bigot with an over-sized ego and a severely under-sized IQ who is using the presidency to line his own and his children’s pockets while selling our country’s integrity to the highest bidder.
But, Donald Trump and his administration are not the entirety of the Republican Party. Mitt Romney proved that. Other Republicans of conscience continue to prove that. It would do our community good to remember that if we really want to make significant, lasting progress, we need support from all sides — including the GOP.
That’s why, even if we disagree with them, we must not turn our backs on Log Cabin Republicans. “We will continue with the rational dialog,” Roberts said of his organization’s efforts with the GOP. And if we as an LGBTQ community want to achieve true equality, we need to support their efforts — or at least not laugh and turn our backs on them.
Tammye Nash is managing editor of Dallas Voice. Opinions expressed here are hers only and do not reflect official policies or opinions of Dallas Voice or Voice Publishing Co.