There are some notable LGBT Republicans who are not supporting Donald Trump, probably for the same reasons that many other Republicans aren't supporting a man viewed not only as unfit for the job and unstable, but who breaks from GOP orthodoxy on several key issues. Ken Mehlman, for example, former George W. Bush campaign manager and one-time Republican National Committee chair , is part of the "Never Trump" crowd.
But then there's billionaire and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is a Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention next week. And Caitlyn Jenner, who had a phone call with Trump, and is now all in. And, perhaps most hypocritically, Chris Barron, the former GOProud leader who now has founded an LGBT for Trump campaign. Barron agrees with the Log Cabin Republican leader Gregory T. Angelo that Trump is "one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency," impressed that he "mentions" the LGBT community often.
I've refuted this ridiculous, dangerous notion several times, a notion that has almost single-handedly been blown up among those in the media by New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Jeremy Peters, who, seemingly for the sake of a sexy story, continually downplay Trump's opposition to marriage equality -- the biggest civil rights issue for LGBT people of our time -- and his promise to overturn the "shocking" Obergefell ruling, and, like the Log Cabin GOPers, play up the fact that he has had gay friends and associates.
But let's give them this for a minute and presuppose that Trump is pro-gay. It means that gay GOPers are behaving exactly the way they've accused gay Democrats of behaving for years: as single-issue voters. For several decades gay Republicans have decried LGBT people who support Democrats as being in the pocket of the Democratic Party and voting only on a single issue -- support for LGBT rights -- while gay Republicans are looking at a broader spectrum of issues (and, in their case in particular, at conservative fiscal issues with regard to taxation and government spending.) This of course isn't true, as most LGBT people, like the majority of members of other minority groups, tend to be progressive on other issues.
But putting that aside too, gay Republicans supporting Trump truly are doing so based on his supposed support of LGBT rights even as he has broken with the GOP on bedrock issues that these same gay GOPers have championed, from tax cuts (Trump has been all over the place on this, but has said taxes have to go up on some people at some point) to cutting Social Security and other programs, which Trump has opposed. So LGBT GOPers supporting Trump are the very single-issue voters they've decried all these years.
And of course, even on that single issue, no one could say Trump is better than Hillary Clinton -- who supports marriage equality while Trump does not. So, people like Barron defend support for Trump by claiming Trump would be better on national security -- yes, even with his reckless stubby fingers on the buttons -- protecting gays against terrorism. And then they blather on about the same things that reporters like Haberman and Peters promote: that Trump has long had business and personal associations with gays and that he's now saying he's a better choice for gays over Clinton, even as he recently met with and made a pact with hundreds of anti-LGBT leaders.
Peters even wrote a piece this week in the Times on the battle over the GOP platform at the convention in which he claimed Trump was distancing himself from the platform on gay rights and viewed that, somehow, as pro-gay. The logic here is that Trump is better on gay issues than prior candidates, who would be making sure the platform was anti-LGBT and would be very much involved. Instead, he was allowing pro-gay GOPers to battle it out with anti-LGBT religious conservatives on the platform committee and he was staying out of it.
Well, surprise, surprise: the proposed platform hammered out yesterday is the most anti-LGBT platform we've seen. It strongly reaffirms opposition to marriage equality and gay adoption. It calls for regulating where transgender people can go to the restroom, supporting draconian laws like HB2 in North Carolina, and it supports the First Amendment Defense Act, which anti-LGBT GOPers in Congress are debating and allows for discriminatory religious exemptions among businesses, organizations and taxpayer funded nonprofits.
And it's unclear why Peters viewed Trump's campaign as not being actively involved, or distancing itself, from the platform regarding LGBT rights, since Trump's anti-trade-deal policies and his wall at the Mexican border are very much part of the platform. The truth is, Trump agrees that Obergefell should be overturned -- promised to appoint judges who would do so -- supports the First Amendment Defense Act and believes that states should be able to pass transgender bathroom bills even if he disagrees with them personally. So, if indeed Trump distanced himself from the platform on LGBT rights it was because he agreed with the religious conservatives who wrote it and let them do what they wanted.
That's because, on LGBT issues, Trump needs anti-LGBT groups to win the election and will surely promote their agenda in return for the votes. And beyond LGBT issues, what does it say that gay Republicans would support a candidate who is blatantly racist and misogynistic, having made outrageous comments and getting the lowest poll numbers among women and minorities we've seen? It's as if they don't realize that women and people of color together make up the majority of LGBT people and couldn't possibly see this man as their champion. And how could any LGBT people not stand with other minorities being blatantly attacked by Trump? This isn't, after all, just a matter of policy difference: the man has called Mexicans "rapists," flirted with white supremacists and even defended an anti-Semitic tweet.
As Robert P. Jones, author of the "The End of White Christian America," wrote in a Times op-ed, there's a reason why Trump has garnered enormous support from anti-LGBT evangelicals. While Ted Cruz promised incremental change, if you will, by vowing to "secure them exemptions from the new realities" by promoting religious liberty laws, Trump promises to fully take America back, to "make America great again" in the eyes of white Christian evangelicals. To do that, you need, as Trump supporter Rev. Robert Jeffress said, "the meanest, toughest, son-of-a-you-know-what."
Trump, Jones notes, thus offers something much more radical than Cruz because Trump "promised to reinstate their central place in the country" and to "turn the clock back." In that light, any LGBT GOPers who thinks Trump is going to support LGBT people aren't just hypocrites, now defined as single-issue voters; they're totally delusional as well.