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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fisking David Lampo

NOTE: On the off chance David Lampo sees this response and feels the urge to dismiss it as an “hysterical screed” by another “Democratic Party shill”, kindly note that in my checkered past is service on the Washington State and National Board of Log Cabin Republicans at the turn of the century; Mr.Lampo serves on the current LCR board. I acknowledge and salute Mr. Lampo’s vastly greater tolerance for bullshit, staying with the GOP rather longer than I did.

The most persuasive argument I can cite against Mr. Lampo’s position in this article is the title of his 2012 book, “'A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights”. Four years later, they still don’t.

My comments on his article are italicized below.]

A gay defense of Donald Trump
David Lampo

Political pundits call this the “silly season” because of all the absurd, dishonest and hypocritical statements made by and on behalf of candidates at election time [In the UK, where the phrase was coined in 1861, it has always meant the late summer period when Parliament and the courts are not sitting. In the US, it has always been known as the “slow news season,” corresponding to the Dog Days, which date back to Hesiod in the time of the ancient Greeks, and, by The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they run from July 3 to August 11. “Dog Days” is a popular phrase at the Cato Institute, where Mr. Lamp worked a long time: in a 2014 article reprinted by Cato, Steve H. Hanke reported, “As we entered the dog days of summer, a flurry of negative economic news surfaced.” Ilya Shapiro wrote, in another, August 2016, Cato reprint, “In these dog days of summer, political observers despair that not even the Olympics can help us escape from a disenchanting election year.” Under either moniker, it is a time characterized by strange and odd news stories because no “real” news is being made. Under neither name, as Mr. Lampo must know, have “absurd, dishonest and hypocritical statements” been limited to political candidates, nor have they been restricted to election year run-ups]. There is no better example of this than the hysterical screeds against gay Republicans (including Log Cabin Republicans) simply because they support Donald Trump or haven’t gotten on the #NeverTrump train [Can there be an “hysterical screed”? Hysteria arises from extreme outbursts of uncontrolled emotion. A screed is a long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as boring. Apparently the two concepts are not, in fact, exclusive: The Oregonian printed a letter to the editor, slagging state Rep. Jennifer Williamson’s “hysterical screed” op-ed, in its September 9, 2016 edition; Patheos critiqued one- also, it’s evil-  against Hillary Clinton, October 5, 2016; Daily Kos called out one against the appointment of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in The Wall Street Journal in 2013.]. The premise that LGBT voters should oppose Donald Trump because he’s anti-gay (among many other false reasons) is absurd, and it typifies the political myopia that affects so many in our community who view everything through a gay lens, demanding complete conformity to their politically correct agenda, unless, it seems, you’re a Democrat [The GOP’s Canadian counterpart, the Conservative Party, finally dropped its opposition to marriage equality in early 2016. With no sense of irony whatever, a Conservative MP commented, “I think it’s a no-brainer. This issue was resolved 10 years ago. There is no point in having … obsolete language about something that was changed in law and society a decade ago”. One assumes the US GOP will get it sometime around 2030. Maybe.]

After all, Bill Clinton gave us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, yet he was enthusiastically supported by LGBT organizations. [President Clinton promised to overturn a longstanding Pentagon ban on gay military service members in his 1992 campaign for president. Congress rushed to enact those regulations into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 1994, a must-pass bill. It came to the president’s desk with a veto-proof majority behind it. He signed it, and by that act made it law, but to say “Bill Clinton gave us DADT” is a bit of a stretch. The Defense of Marriage Act was a Republican bill passed in a presidential election year by veto-proof margins, too; had Clinton vetoed it and lost the election, would American have fared better with (a) DOMA’s veto overridden, and (b) President Bob Dole, who accepted, then returned, a campaign contribution from the Log Cabin Republicans?] It  was the same with John Kerry, who not only opposed same-sex marriage but also supported two state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage in Missouri and Massachusetts [There were eleven on the ballot in 2004. They were all sponsored and passed by Republicans. The GOP made them a pillar of George W. Bush’s re-election. His campaign was run by Ken Mehlman, who came out as gay in  2010]. Of course, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama also opposed marriage when they ran, coming out in support just recently [Obama four years ago, Clinton three], only after it was politically safe and necessary for them to do so. [No Republican presidential candidate has ever come out in support of marriage equality, because it remains “politically safe and necessary to do do.” The 2016 GOP platform- endorsed by Donald Trump- calls for repeal of marriage equality, and Trump has repeatedly promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will do so. See, e.g. David Lampo, “A gay defense of Donald Trump, Washington Blade, October 14, 2016, below: “It is certainly fair to criticize Trump for telling social conservatives that he would consider appointing justices to the Supreme Court who oppose the Obergefell decision…”].Yet none of them were labeled bigots or anti-gay because of their positions [They also supported legislation to grant other civil rights to LGBT Americans. Republican presidential candidates- and congressional majorities, have consistently opposed any, any time]. It’s only when it’s a Republican who disagrees that the gay knives come out. [Mr Lampo flashed his carving knives in a May 4, 2012 Washington Post op-ed savaging the last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney: “The resignation of Richard Grenell, the recently appointed and openly gay foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, was as sudden as it was shocking. It was also yet another disturbing sign that the Romney campaign is still in pander mode when it comes to the anti-gay August, he signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage promising to support a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, nominate Supreme Court justices who oppose gay marriage and even establish a presidential commission on “religious liberty” to investigate alleged threats against opponents of same-sex marriage. He has reiterated those views in nearly every Republican presidential debate since then."

Donald Trump has done all of those things except sign the NOM pledge, that organization having sunk into irrelevance and poverty after the Obergefell decision in 2015] The fact is that any honest look at Trump’s record and views on gay rights shows that most of the attacks by gay Democrats on his views are simply incorrect [What is included- and excluded- by “most”?]

Trump, of course, has been a New York Democrat [Donald Trump has changed political affiliations five times since 1987; in 2000 he ran, briefly, for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination without joining that party] and social liberal for most of his adult life, chummy with many Democratic politicians [Politifact found, in 2015, Trump has, overall, contributed $350,000 more to Republicans than Democrats in races for which records are accessible], including the Clintons, and active in many charities, including support for AIDS charities [David Farenthold, The Washington Post, June 28, 2016: “In the 1980s, Trump pledged to give away royalties from his first book to fight AIDS and multiple sclerosis. But he gave less to those causes than he did to his older daughter’s ballet school...“To the homeless, to Vietnam veterans, for AIDS, multiple sclerosis,” Trump said about proceeds from his first book, “The Art of the Deal.” “Originally, I figured they’d get a couple of hundred thousand, but because of the success of ‘The Art of the Deal,’ they’ll get four or five million.’...He gave $12,450 to AIDS charities between 1987 and 1991…(in 2004) Trump’s foundation appears to have given $1,000 to AIDS research”], . He has a long record of public support for expanding gay rights, including adding sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He stated support for employment nondiscrimination as far back as 2000 in his book, “The America We Deserve,” in which he wrote of his support for a country “free of racism, discrimination against women, or discrimination against people based on sexual orientation” [The Republican Party opposes extending employment nondiscrimination protections to LGBT Americans, and Congress has consistently prevented hearings and votes on such legislation. The Republican Party also opposes the Equality Act, which would outlaw the discrimination Trump said he opposes. On September 22, 2016, Trump pledged to sign the First Amendment Defense Act. A Cato Institute colleague of Lampo’s, Walter Olson, wrote of the proposed law in Newsweek, ““FADA as currently drafted isn’t really an accommodation law. It’s an our-guys-win law. It says that even if the government has set you up as the monopoly provider of some service or gatekeeper for some permission, you may use that monopoly or gatekeeper status against same-sex couples and their interests with entire impunity”. He said he opposed North Carolina’s HB2 on April 21, 2016; on July 5, 2016, he said he supported it].

He publicly supported repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and in an interview with The Brody File (a very conservative radio show) in 2011, in response to a question about civil unions, he said, “First of all, I live in New York. I know many, many gay people. Tremendous people. And to be honest with you … I haven’t totally formed my opinion. But there can be no discrimination against gays” [See preceding paragraph’s comment. N.B. he didn’t answer the question about civil unions, either].

During the Republican primary campaign, he was famously accused by some of his rivals, particularly Ted Cruz, of supporting “New York values,” code words for gay rights [See, e.g. David Lampo, “A gay defense of Donald Trump, Washington Blade, October 14, 2016, above: “Trump, of course, has been a New York Democrat and social liberal for most of his adult life”], but he never backed away from his support, stating in February that the country would continue to see “forward motion” on gay rights under his presidency, hardly the stuff of anti-gay bigotry [See all comments above. And below].

After the horrific terrorist attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando by radical Islamist Omar Mateen, Trump gave an impassioned speech denouncing it, specifically citing the long history of homophobia in the Islamic world, where gays are imprisoned or killed in many Muslim nations. While many other Republicans were afraid to explicitly make the connection between radical Islam and homophobia, Trump was not, and yet for that he was attacked by the likes of HRC’s Chad Griffin, a sycophant for Hillary Clinton [Trump has consistently limited the scope of his support for LGBT rights to not letting them be killed by radical Muslim extremists, declaring in his acceptance speech only to “protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” In domestic and civil rights policy, he has consistently promised the religious right support- and a presidential signature- on every anti-LGBT law they want, and repeal of every pro-LGBT executive order by President Obama. See also, Jeremy Stahl, “Trump to Join Titans of Homophobia at Orlando Conference”, Slate, August 9, 2016: “Less than two months after a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead, Donald Trump will be visiting the city to take part in a private conference featuring some of the most outspokenly homophobic anti-LGBTQ activists in the country.” Trump has never visited the massacre site, though his campaign has opened an office across the street.]

Trump and his surrogates repeatedly raised the issue of gay rights during the Republican convention, and Trump himself chose the well-known gay entrepreneur Peter Thiel to give the keynote address, in which he publicly announced his sexual orientation to the cheers and applause of many in the audience [See, e.g. the Time article quoted below; note the use of “many.”]. Yet instead of celebrating its symbolic importance, the gay media and establishment ignored or dismissed it in their continuing role as shills for the Democratic Party [Shills are people who publicly help or give credibility to a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization. Wikipedia notes. In Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin’s bio, “Griffin's recent work also includes political fundraising for candidates; his clients have included Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He was a member of the national finance committee for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign, and raised over $300,000 in that effort.”]

Time underscored Lampo’s optimism,and its unreality: “The words made history — the first time a Republican convention speaker noted his sexual orientation — but also left the party stuck in something of a contradiction. Donald Trump’s acceptance speech mentioned gay rights and it drew cheers too. “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you,” Trump said, straying slightly from an otherwise closely scripted speech. It was an uneasy moment inside the hall, with those who disagreed choosing to stay silent.

“After all, days earlier, the party adopted as part of its platform ideas that gays and lesbians can be made into heterosexuals through “conversion therapies” and that marriage should be limited to straight couples — setting aside the Supreme Court ruling that rendered opposition moot with a ruling that all couples can marry. If the GOP platform were enacted, some of Thiel’s rights would be rolled back.

“To say there has been a tension over LGBT rights in Cleveland would be an understatement. Thursday night’s end of Republicans’ nominating convention brought to an end one of the most disjointed, least consistent weeks in American politics. Thiel didn’t even make it through the first paragraph of his speech when a heckler shouted an antigay epithet from the balcony. By the time Thiel uttered his six, history-making words — “I am proud to be gay” — the audience inside the arena had come to see Thiel as a person, not someone who deserved jeered.

“Thiel’s inclusion on the schedule was always high-risk. Yes, he founded PayPal and was an early Facebook investor. But he’s also an openly gay man in a party that has seldom embraced such members. Like the broader culture, there is a generational divide on LGBT rights inside the GOP, and this was not an audience that tilted toward youth. Thiel and his team knew the appearance was fraught with potential problems, but decided it was worth the risk. He just had to keep the speech moving.

“When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union, and we won. Now, we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?” Thiel said, nodding to his libertarian instincts and showing his disgust with those who have kept their eyes on public bathrooms. Fights about such private spaces should not have been in the platform, to Thiel’s frustration.

“I don’t pretend to agree with every plank in our party’s platform, but fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline,” Thiel said. “And nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump.” It was a rejection of the GOP orthodoxy with Trump’s tacit endorsement.

“There are signs that party is shifting. At a packed, off-site event this week, reality-TV personality and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner said it was easier to come out as transgender than to come out as a Republican. “I get it. The Democratic Party does a better job when it comes to the LGBT and trans community,” Jenner said. “The Republican Party needs to understand. They need to know people who are trans.”

“The culture wars, however, had a fertile battleground in Cleveland. Retired Lieut.-Gen. Michael Flynn mocked the Obama Administration for being too inclusive with the military: “War is not about bathrooms.” It won hearty support from delegates on the floor, who see LGBT rights as yet another example of political correctness gone wild. Trump brought the crowd to a roar, saying: “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.”

“So delegates are to be forgiven for not fully understanding what, exactly, the GOP is trying to do at other points. From the podium, a Trump executive said her boss “knows LGBTQ lives matter” — using one of the more inclusive versions of an acronym that is not on the tips of these conservatives’ tongues. “We are the party of the open door,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich framed LGBT rights through national security. “If our enemies had their way, gays, lesbians and transgender citizens would be put to death as they are today in the Islamic State and Iran,” he said. And Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said the Constitution does not see sexual identity. “Whether you are gay or straight, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of all of us to live according to our conscience,” he said.

“Thiel was the first openly gay individual to address a GOP convention since 2000, when former Representative Jim Kolbe spoke — and some delegates lowered their head in silent, prayerful protest back then, even though Kolbe said nothing about his sexuality. But that’s not to say gays and lesbians have not been at conventions since. Mary Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and one of his top aides, watched her father’s 2004 speech from the VIP box with her partner Heather. And there is a corps of LGBT Republican operatives who power the party behind the scenes and fund it with their checkbooks.

“Thiel’s moment Thursday night was, in part, an acknowledgement that the party has made its road to the White House more difficult than it needed to be. Four years ago, with a less-conservative platform on marriage, Republicans won just 22% of voters who identified themselves to exit pollsters as gay, lesbian or bisexual. President Obama’s re-election bid carried 76% of them.

“Thiel’s speech Thursday night was unlikely to push it to an equal balance, but it might have changed a few minds inside the hall — the very people who insisted on the socially conservative platform positions that Democrats so easily demonize.”

When Thiel asked why bathrooms were such a big issue, The Raleigh News and Observer reported, “Some North Carolina Republicans do care, viewing the issue as a public safety concern. Several of the state’s delegates on the convention floor stood up and booed the comment, according to IndyWeek reporter Barry Yeoman.

“He’s an open homosexual,” said Jeff Lominac, a Cruz delegate from Conover.]

But perhaps the most dramatic expression of Trump’s fundamental support for gay rights was his heartfelt acknowledgement of the “GLBTQ community” in his acceptance speech at the convention, a truly historic step, one that would have been applauded by the Blade and gay politicos if it had been uttered by a Democrat [It was- in its then-form- by both gay and lesbian speakers, at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. They spoke in favor of a gay rights platform plank the delegates voted down. It was adopted in 1980. It’s kind of old news in that way. Democrats are familiar enough with the acronym to get it right, too].

It is certainly fair to criticize Trump for telling social conservatives that he would consider appointing justices to the Supreme Court who oppose the Obergefell decision, yet it would be extremely unlikely that even if Trump truly wanted to reverse it that he could do so [Politifact has documented Trump’s opposition to marriage equality back to 2000. It is also noteworthy that the legislative goal of evangelicals whose antigay wishlist Trump has promised to support mostly involves denying as many as possible of the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, leaving the right to marry a second-class shell].

There’s no doubt one can find much to criticize in Trump (and, for that matter, Hillary Clinton) [David Brooks, the god of bothsiderism, would be proud; if Charles Manson had been able to offer the defense that Joe Stalin killed way more people, and way more bloodily, he’d be a retired, almost-forgotten, aromatherapist on Big Sur today], but to label him anti-gay or a mouthpiece of the religious right is so off-base and incorrect it calls into question the credibility and honesty of those making such accusations [Tread lightly, Mr. Lampo; or do you subscribe, here to the view, articulated by Mr. Trump in the second debate, that those who oppose you should be jailed?].  According to a recent poll of gay voters by NBC News, 36 percent of registered LGBT voters support a candidate other than Clinton, with 28 percent supporting either Trump or Gary Johnson, the Libertarian [The same September 23 poll reported that, in a head-to-head matchup, Trump trails Clinton by 52%. “When Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are added to the match-up question, Clinton still maintained the lead among registered LGBT voters with 63 percent support. Trump, on the other hand, had 15 percent support. Johnson was not far behind with 13 percent, followed by 8 percent support for Stein”]. It’s time for gay Democrats to stop reviling anyone who doesn’t agree with their political perspectives [Every single one does that, really? Every single one? Reviling? That sounds an awful lot like “hysterical screed” talk to me] and try instead to exhibit the same tolerance they demand of everyone else [See the discussion of the First Amendment Defense Act’s levels demanding tolerance, above. Me? I just say, ‘Well, bless your heart’].

David Lampo is the author of ‘A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights’ and served on the boards of Equality Virginia and Log Cabin Republicans.

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