Does Trump Really Have the Log Cabin Republicans?

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(Trump with influential Silicon Valley businessman, Peter Thiel)

In the same week that Trump moved forward on letting federal contractors use “religious exemptions” to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans in the workplace, the chairman and vice chairwoman of the Log Cabin Republicans (L.C.R) formally endorsed him as their candidate for 2020. Last Thursday, Robert Kabel and Jill Homan tried to sell the premise that seeing Donald Trump take the stage at the GOP Convention in 2016 “was like a dream fulfilled,” representing “how far the LGBT community has come since the days Pat Buchanan’s hate-filled exhortation against the LGBTQ community in Houston in 1992.” They are right about how far we’ve come, but they fail in their reasoning-the LGBT community has advanced despite the rhetoric and actions from the right to curtail advancement.

Decidedly absent from this proud endorsement was an explanation about why the group refused to endorse Trump in 2016, especially given this ground swell of pride for him and his representation of advancement. (They endorsed McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012.) Then Kabel and Homan also said, “We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.” Oh, really.

(Trump with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.)

This endorsement Op Ed detailed nothing about the federal government using religious liberty as tool to deny LGBT rights and protections. Nothing about how Trump and his administration support bastardizing Christianity in the name of discrimination against the LGBT community by refusing them goods and services. Nothing about the “religious liberty task force,” set up by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Trump issued a religious liberty executive order that sought to declare war on anything and anyone perceived to trespass on the "religious freedom" of Christians. Instead the leadership of the L.C.R. chose to cling to the false promise that Trump has “committed to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years,” wrapped up in the overt praise of two openly gay businessmen that have made it to the mountaintop, only to forget everyone behind them.

This endorsement read more like an homage to Peter Thiel and Tim Cook, making it pretty apparent that the only thing the Log Cabin Republicans are interested in now is business opportunities, making money and an inside track to power. The only thing this move really does is show the true privilege of those who chose to remain with the organization, who have insulated themselves from the everyday assault on Civil Rights that most LGBT citizens face.

Trump didn’t miss the opportunity to brag about the endorsement when asked by a reporter about his plan to allow continued LGBT discrimination within the federal government. The fact that he could not complete the entire answer without boasting about Peter Thiel’s support is very telling about who really controls the Log Cabin Republicans these days. What Trump also failed to mention is the rift this move has caused within the organization and the resignations of those within the Log Cabin Republicans who outwardly oppose this latest decision.

“There is no world where I can sit down at the dining room table and explain to my children that I just endorsed Donald Trump for president. It is contrary to everything that I have ever taught them about what it means to be a good, decent, principled member of society….In order to maintain favor with this unprincipled, unscrupulous President, too many in our party are fast abandoning the moral high ground and I fear that in this endorsement, the Log Cabin Republicans have damaged our ability to effectively advocate for equal rights for all…I could never endorse him for President of the United States and still look my children in the eye.” — Jennifer Horn

Jennifer Horn sat on the board of the Log Cabin Republicans for several years, and after hearing about the endorsement by leadership, she sent a letter to the chair and vice chair telling them that Trump did not line up with the core values of the organization. Horn had made the decision long ago that she would never endorse Trump. After the board voted to endorse him, she resigned.

Horn had previously served as the chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party in 2016 and claims she was disappointed back then in Trump. She was recruited by the Log Cabin Republicans after publicly calling for the removal of language that advocated against equal rights for LGBT people from the state and national platform shortly after Trump’s nomination. Charles T. Moran, an L.C.R. spokesman, responded to Horn’s resignation via email with a clear dig at Horn’s motivations, “We understand the challenging place this [endorsement] put her in since she recently served as Bill Weld’s campaign manager.” Bill Weld, is currently the only person who has announced a primary challenge to Trump and Horn served as his campaign manager from April to June.

“I’m not the only one. We went through a process as laid out under our by-laws for the endorsement, seeking feedback from our local chapters around the country. We had a vote of the board. There were a handful of members, and it’s not a large board, and there [were] a handful of members who opposed this endorsement. I’m not the only one who’s resigned, I’ll let the others speak for themselves. I don’t know if they’re necessarily looking to talk about this publicly. I’m not the only one who’s resigned.” — Jennifer Horn, speaking to MSNBC

As Trump continues his “Money Buys You Everything” tour leading up to 2020, one thing is painfully clear-his dinner with Tim Cook a few days ago must have gone well and he’s effectively using his connections to get to the leadership within the Log Cabin Republicans. And they are using him right back. Horn has confirmed that a “handful of members” were opposed to the endorsement and that she is not the only one to resign from a reasonably sized board. She has also confirmed that the Log Cabin Republicans were always an independent organization and not an umbrella faction within the GOP and that latest move has now destroyed any autonomy they once enjoyed in an effort to clamor for political favor from Trump. What remains unclear is how many will continue to stay silent about this controversial endorsement as the next year progresses.

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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.