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At the start, I should note that I was an original “Never Trump” conservative. I opposed the candidacy of Donald Trump from the day he came down the Trump Tower escalator.
In November, I didn’t vote for President Trump, nor Hillary Clinton. In fact, I was a Presidential Elector from South Carolina for Evan McMullin – should he have won.
With those personal caveats behind me, I must admit that this Administration will be historic for gay and lesbian Americans. Donald Trump is the first President of the United States who was elected as an open supporter of the gay community at large and gay marriage specifically.
Let us not forget that until it was politically expedient, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both opposed gay marriage for the overwhelming majority of the time taxpayers paid for their lifestyles.
It took Dick Cheney in 2004 and Joe Biden in 2008 for President Obama to voice support of gay marriage. Even then, it took a conservative Supreme Court to make national gay marriage the law of the land.
I know, inconvenient truths are hard to digest for the left-wing gay activists. Donald Trump has been far ahead of the crowd on several issues, including gay rights.
It’s important to put the LGBT vote in some context. Like the African-American vote, the Democrats have counted on a strong LGBT vote as part of their “identity politics” coalition. Democratic nominees have had over 70% support of self-identified gay and lesbian voters since the beginning of the 21st Century.
However, the LGBT vote for the GOP nominee has fluctuated from 2000 to 2016 in the high teens (Trump) to the high 20s (McCain) – quite strong as compared to the African-American vote. Despite his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, President George W. Bush kept his LGBT support in the mid-20s that year versus the 2000 vote.
Despite Trump’s vocal support of the gay community for years, left-wing gay radicals targeted the GOP ticket with their usual vitriol, lies and projection. I’ve been a Republican activist since 1984, and an active gay conservative voice since the mid-1990s. If I had a dime for every time a gay liberal friend, or a gay “rights” group shrieked that the GOP was building “concentration camps” for gays in Montana…. well, I’d be able to afford to buy one of Bernie Sanders’ homes by now.
This time around, the gay groups wailed, Mike Pence single-handedly applied electroshock therapy to convert gays and lesbians into being straight. I wish I was joking. Just search Twitter for this topic and you’ll wonder how I’m still typing and not tied down in an electric chair right now.
President Trump now has a historic platform to demonstrate by deeds that he shows no animus toward the LGBT community yet at the same time not advocating for special rights. I have confidence that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will carry out our civil rights laws in an equal fashion, which includes LGBT protection and protection of religious freedom.
This tension isn’t difficult to ease: the Constitution provides the path. It’s too bad Obama governed based on feelings, not laws; that’s one of the reasons Trump was elected.
I’ve argued for years that the GOP shouldn’t expect to somehow capture a larger chunk of the gay vote. The Democrats use and abuse LGBT voters as they do their other aggrieved constituencies. There will ALWAYS be a gripe that Democrats will exploit to convince gays that Republicans want to kill them.
But the path to growing the GOP share of millennials runs right through that generations’ acceptance of the LGBT community. Donald Trump is in a unique position to show that he is friend, not foe, of the millions of American gays and lesbians.
After all, he’s been open about it all along.