By ROBERT TURNER & MIKE HUBBARD
In a recent op-ed penned for the Washington Post titled “A Republican litmus test harms our party,” four former prominent Republican senators — William Brock (Tenn.), Jack Danforth (Mo.), Trent Lott (Miss.) and Don Nickles (Okla.) — correctly address a major problem within the Republican Party today. Interestingly enough, their advice to Republicans is something that the queer rights movement would also be wise to heed.
The senators wrote, “Many of these more recent assaults constitute an attempt at a political purge, an effort to remove from the party all but the ‘doctrinally pure,’ however critics define purity. Such efforts would deny all that our party is. We do not have the right to determine who can ‘be’ a Republican on the basis of some litmus test, ever.”
These senators speak about a trend that could marginalize the Republican Party and relegate it to minority, regional or third-party status. As we have stated before, Ronald Reagan’s 80 percent philosophy is vital: the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend rather than a 20 percent enemy. But the litmus test trend is prominent in the gay rights movement, and it can have equally bad effects.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” wasn’t repealed solely through the efforts of Democrats. Republican senators like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mark Kirk and Scott Brown, among others, were vital in getting that loathsome law repealed. Yet few gay rights groups other than Log Cabin recognized those senators for their support.
Just as too much stock has been put into being a “real” Republican, there has been too much bickering in the gay rights crowd about selling out. There is no one arbiter of who can and cannot call oneself a Republican or gay. There is no agency with which to check as if you were verifying a credit score.
The senators closed their Post piece with this: “Republicans have learned from 150 years of practical experience in elective politics that inclusion, not exclusion, is the winning formula.”
This is the mantra of the Log Cabin Republicans. Inclusion Wins! Log Cabin works to build a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party by promoting the core values of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality of all LGBT Americans. We emphasize that these principles and the moral values on which they stand are consistent with the pursuit of equal treatment under the law for gay and lesbian Americans.
Just as we (obviously) do not want to see the Grand Old Party marginalized, neither do we want to see the gay rights movement hamstrung. But when gay groups put liberalism first and gay rights second, they start making 20 percent enemies.
We realize, of course, that there is tension between LGBT rights advocates and some Republican politicians. We at Log Cabin try our best to support conservative policies that help gay people. And we’re relatively unconcerned about the Republicans: a party that has weathered Watergate and Civil War will endure. But if the gay rights movement gets too closely tied with liberalism, it can get marginalized. And that would be a shame.
Robert Turner is president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @DCBigPappa on Twitter. Mike Hubbard is a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin. Reach him at email@example.com or @mikeahub.