Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Political Notebook: Dem, GOP party platforms diverge on LGBT rights


GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney
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President Barack Obama

The country's two main political parties couldn't be further apart when it comes to LGBT rights. Their divergence on gay issues is being made clear in the platforms that Republicans and Democrats are adopting during their quadrennial conventions.

The GOP on Tuesday during their confab in Tampa, Florida approved a document that supports not only denying same-sex couples the right to marry but also attacks judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality. And it repeats disputed claims that "traditional marriage is best for children."

The 62-page document calls for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and applauds the Republican-led House of Representatives for defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court.

The platform also says that faith-based institutions should be allowed to ignore policies that ban LGBT discrimination and allow same-sex couples to adopt. It also backs private organizations like the Boy Scouts of America that restrict membership based on sexual orientation.

And the GOP platform not only condemns "the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage," it calls for a federal investigation "into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights."

While denouncing their party's anti-gay stances, LGBT Republicans nonetheless saw some positive advances this year. They and their conservative allies, many part of a younger generation of Republicans, were able to defeat attempts to include language calling for a return to banning gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military and barriers that would impede LGBT asylum seekers from escaping persecution in their home countries.

"The obsessive exclusion of gay couples, including military and families, from the rights and responsibilities of marriage, combined with bizarre rhetoric about 'hate campaigns' and 'the homosexual rights agenda' are clear signs of desperation among social conservatives who know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality," stated Log Cabin Republican Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper.

The Obama campaign was quick to denounce the GOP's anti-gay platform and its attacks against the LGBT rights that President Barack Obama has advanced since being elected in 2008.

"This platform, which was written at the direction of Mitt Romney's campaign, defines the Republican Party today," Jamie Citron, Obama for America's national LGBT vote director, wrote in a message sent to LGBT supporters.

Citron added that the document is "a sharp reminder" of what kinds of policies could be implemented should Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and his running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who secured their party's nomination Tuesday, are elected.

"We stand to lose if Romney and Ryan take the White House this November. One party supports our right to be equals in the eyes of the law, the other rejects it," wrote Citron. "There is a clear choice in this election for the LGBT community and allies. We've got to fight for the only candidate who has our back."

But Dan Brown, president of the Log Cabin San Francisco chapter, countered that the GOP presidential candidate "disagrees with a large majority of that platform" and said the document would prove to be irrelevant.

"We all know a platform is a piece of paper that very few people will ever look at again after this convention process is finalized," said Brown, adding that having Log Cabin able to have an impact on writing the document was significant. "It is not ideal and not what I would have wanted as a platform. But no one is ever going to be happy with everything in the platform."

The national Log Cabin group has yet to back Romney – it does not issue endorsements until after the party convention wraps up – and it remains unclear if it will give him its official imprimatur. Gay GOPers have mixed feelings about their candidate, acknowledged Brown.

"In terms of people's personal opinions, there is a variety. Some people are extremely supportive; for others he was not their top choice but are now getting behind him," said Brown, who initially backed former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. in the race. "Personally, I am endorsing Romney. I think Governor Romney is the best suited candidate at this moment, time and place to get this country back on track and get our economy growing again."

LGBT Republicans in San Francisco will gather at 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday, August 30) to watch Romney's acceptance speech. The public event takes place at Cow Hollow watering hole The Republic, located at 3213 Scott Street.


Dems set to endorse same-sex marriage

Unlike their Republican counterparts, LGBT Democrats are jubilant at the prospect of seeing their party adopt the most pro-LGBT party platform in the nation's history during their confab next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to stating unequivocal support for marriage equality, the Democratic platform is expected to call for the passage of a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. It also includes support for LGBT immigration rights.

"Four years ago it only had sexual orientation for ENDA, so LGBT Democrats are very happy to see that," said San Jose resident Clark Williams, a gay man who is a delegate to the convention and served on the platform committee.

The difference in the two parties' planks is "night and day in terms of LGBT equality," said Williams, who is the northern California chair of the state Democratic Party's LGBT Caucus. "The Republican Party platform is becoming more conservative and more anti-LGBT with every convention. It is the wrong direction for our country."

El Cerrito resident Gabriel Quinto , 51, a gay HIV-positive Filipino American, is headed to the Democratic gathering as a delegate-at-large for California. When he applied earlier this year for one of the delegate slots, Quinto said he had no inkling he would be taking part in LGBT history.

"It is very historic and I am just so excited to be a part of it. At this time of my life who would have thought I would be alive. I'm really excited about participating in it," said Quinto. "This is my way of giving back and contributing to make sure LGBTs across the country are treated as human beings and we have human rights. I support the president for being so brave and compassionate to include LGBTs in the platform."

Alice snubs Olague

As expected, the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club has snubbed bisexual District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague in her bid for a full term this fall. The moderate group has given a sole endorsement to her challenger London Breed , executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex.

Alice members Monday night, August 27 approved the club's political action committee's recommendations on which candidates to back in local races this fall. Olague is the only LGBT candidate on the ballot not to win Alice's support.

The decision was hardly a surprise, as a club co-chair told the Political Notebook last week that Alice members knew Breed better and longer than they did Olague.

In the race for the open District 7 seat, Alice gave a first place endorsement to Port Commissioner Francis Xavier "F.X." Crowley; a second place nod to Board of Appeals President Michael Garcia ; and third place support to gay journalist Joel Engardio.

For the rest of Alice's endorsements, visit the club's website at


Bi woman survives House primary

Former Arizona state lawmaker Kyrsten Sinema could become the first out bisexual elected to Congress this November after surviving Tuesday's Democratic primary. But she now faces a tough general election fight against her GOP opponent, Paradise Valley Town Councilman Vernon Parker, in the race for the newly created 9th Congressional District in Phoenix.

On the losing side Tuesday night was gay Tucson Dr. Matt Heinz, a state representative running for the seat once held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords . He was seen as the underdog and lost badly against former Giffords aide Ron Barber, who won a special election in June to serve out the remainder of Gifford's term.

Now the LGBT political world turns its eyes to Rhode Island, where gay Democratic Congressman David Cicilline is struggling to be re-elected to a second term. His fate could very well be decided in his primary election Tuesday, September 11.

In recent days his Democratic challenger, businessman Anthony Gemma, has accused Cicilline of voter fraud, though without any proof, and during a debate Tuesday night called him an outright liar. Polls show the race essentially a dead heat.

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reports on trans leaders uniting to re-elect President Barack Obama.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail

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