Berin Szoka, a gay Republican who has been a longtime supporter of the Log Cabin Republicans, hammers the group and says he’s no longer involved with them after their hypocritical stance on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary while endorsing many Republican candidates with strongly anti-gay agendas.
Shortly before Christmas, in response to gay advocates, Hagelpublicly apologized for his comments — and added that he “fully supports” openly gay servicemembers. The nation’s largest gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, and largest gay servicemembers’ group, Outserve, applauded Hagel’s apology — as did Hormel himself, even endorsing his nomination. Yet in a second full-page ad run Tuesday in the Washington Post, Log Cabin calls Hagel’s apology “Too Little, Too Late.”
Keeping the controversy over Hagel’s comments alive gives some Democrats a convenient excuse for opposing Hagel: Can he be trusted to implement repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” That reform is one of the few wins progressives can claim from a president they see as disappointingly “center-right.” So it’s the perfect wedge issue for attacking Hagel’s left flank while rallying conservatives — provided it comes from the right messenger: gay Republicans.
Craven as that is, it’s even more of a stretch for Log Cabin, which hasn’t exactly been tough on gay rights. Mitt Romney opposed DADT repeal, marriage equality, employment non-discrimination and essentially every other gay issue Log Cabin stands for — yet Log Cabin still endorsed him, albeit in a “qualified” way. Now they oppose Hagel, who’s said he’s “fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families” — the only gay issues a secretary of Defense actually handles. That bizarre double standard will frustrate what should be Log Cabin’s top goal: encouraging Republicans to improve on gay rights — precisely as Hagel’s done.
Log Cabin’s Romney endorsement declared that “building a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party requires Republicans reaching out to Republicans.” Apparently, that tolerance doesn’t extend to Republicans who believe that, in foreign policy, discretion is the better part of valor. That’s why I’ve quit Log Cabin, an organization I’ve been involved with for a decade and whose annual D.C. holiday party my partner and I used to host.
It seems to me, though, that this kind of thing is inevitable. If you’re gay and you publicly support a party that has made anti-gay bigotry a central part of its agenda for decades, cognitive dissonance is bound to happen. You can’t support gay rights and the Republican party at the same time without contradicting yourself repeatedly.