The Log Cabin Republicans President Is Livid Over The GOP's Missed Opportunity
For many of us who find ourselves in the liberal bubble, the Log Cabin Republicans — the LGBTQ advocacy group within the Republican Party — seem like an oxymoron, personified. That contradiction came to a head last week when, following the approval of one of the most anti-LGBTQ platforms in Republican National Convention history, Gregory T. Angelo, the group's president issued a blistering statement to supporters, saying "I'm mad as hell — and I know you are too."
"That's the job of Log Cabin Republicans," Angelo tells Bustle. "When the platform committee is presenting language that is the exact opposite of that, it's our obligation, as the Log Cabin Republicans, to speak out."
The platform — which was finalized Friday, and channels some of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump's positions, notably on ISIS, immigration, and trade — swings far to the right of the party's candidate, especially on LGBTQ issues.
"In addition to the things you might expect, like opposition to marriage equality," Angelo says, "there were new planks that were added to the platform that involved an affirmation of so-called 'pray the gay away' therapy." These types of therapy, thought to be effective during the '80s and '90s, have more recently been seen to be ineffective and possibly destructive, and the practice has been banned in California and New Jersey.
Angelo also notes that the platform supports so-called "bathroom laws" that require individuals to use bathrooms that correspond to their birth-gender. "That was a direct jab at the transgender community," Angelo says.
This year's platform was especially disappointing for Angelo, considering that Trump is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly candidates the GOP has ever seen. "There was an opportunity the platform committee had in the wake of the attack in Orlando to follow the lead of our presumptive nominee Donald Trump and express sympathy and support for the LGBT community," Angelo says. "Time and time again, when the platform committee proposed amendments that would allow them to vote in solidarity with the LGBT community, even if there philosophical differences, they said no."
In his own analysis of the platform committee's actions, "I can't say I was surprised," he says. "I was most definitely incensed, but not surprised." Angelo notes that the committee is controlled by "social conservatives from the fringe right with a very particular agenda."
He also acknowledges that this is the first RNC platform since the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality in 2015. "Considering the composition of the platform committee, it should come as a shock to no one that they have decided to double-down on anti-gay rhetoric rather than supporting ... such language," Angelo says.
Regarding Trump, Angelo points out that he "was not a social issue warrior at all — and that allowed him to achieve more votes than any other Republican presidential candidate in history."
So why should LGBTQ voters consider supporting the GOP in November? "I think people can find in the platform that they should like, whether you're LGBT or straight allies," Angelo says. "If you support a sound economic policy; if you support tax reform; if you support free market solutions to challenges like health care; if you support protection of your Second Amendment Constitutional rights; and if you support individual liberty, you are or at least should be a Republican."
The trouble, he says, is that "the party's opposition to LGBT equality prevents a wide swath of the general electorate from considering those bread-and-butter conservative issues."
Though there has been no formal polling of LGBTQ voters, a survey from May showed that LGBTQ voters preferred Clinton over Trump by 4-to-1. But for LGBTQ activists within the GOP like Angelo, pushing his fellow Republicans is central to his mission: "We're fighting for a more inclusive GOP." With the current RNC platform, however, it seems like he might be waging an uphill battle.