The GOP frontrunner is drawing heat for anti-LGBT remarks
If any word describes the 2016 Republican presidential race, it’s “unpredictable.”
A year ago, establishment candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were seen as frontrunners.
But neither experience nor, in Bush’s case, name recognition have helped their candidacies.
Instead bombastic outsiders Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz lead the pack. And as of Tuesday, March 15, the race is down to three candidates: Trump, the brash, billionaire real estate mogul; Cruz, the outspoken conservative senator who is heartily disliked by his colleagues; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has become the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate.
Unpredictable also describes Trump. And that’s what worries Gregory Angelo, president of the national LGBT Republican group Log Cabin Republicans.
“Prior to January, his opinions lead me to believe he would be no harm on LGBT issues. Perhaps he could be an ally if president,” Angelo said of Trump. “But in January he said he would ‘strongly consider appointing a Supreme Court justice who is against [or would reverse] marriage equality.’”
Now Angelo’s organization is running a series of advertisements challenging Trump, asking him where actually does stand on marriage equality and LGBT nondiscrimination.
The video highlights past announcements by Trump supporting LGBT rights, such as an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, in which the candidate accepts the legitimacy of last year’s landmark marriage equality ruling Obergefell v. Hodges. He said then, “the decision’s been made, and that is the law of the land.”
“The candidate has taken documented stands on both sides of the marriage equality debate. In fact, in the past, it seemed as if Mr. Trump would be the most-pro gay presidential candidate in the 2016 GOP field. All voters — including especially gay Republicans and allies — deserve to know unequivocally if Mr. Trump would be a friend or a foe to the LGBT community in the White House,” Angelo said. “The question remains where he now stands in this pivotal phase of the process.”
The videos are part of an ongoing accountability campaign targeting Trump as well as the Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The advertisements also highlight the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s donations to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and Gay Men’s Health Crisis in 2012 totaling $30,000. Those were charities chosen by contestants on Trump’s reality NBC show
Celebrity Apprentice, but checks went to these two LGBT organizations from the Trump Foundation. Magic Johnson Foundation, which provides AIDS awareness programming, and the Latino Commission on AIDS also received funds.
While Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, the foundation brings in about $1 million in donations a year and files a Form 990 as a non-profit organization.
Donations from the foundation are made in categories such as diseases and conditions, education, health, museums and youth development. Population groups served include children and youth as well as economically disadvantaged.
Most of the organizations that benefited from Trump Foundation were organizations like Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation and American Heart Association. Other health and research organizations that benefited were American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Diabetes Association and others.
For all of his appeal to conservative Christians, the Trump foundation’s only 2012 donation that might appeal to that sector went to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It donated to a few Catholic private schools in New York.
On the other hand, the Trump Foundation donated to a broad range of Jewish charities including the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the UJA Foundation and the American Friends of the Jaffa Institute, which works with underprivileged children in Jaffa and the south side of Tel Aviv in Israel.
The foundation also made a donation to an organization despised by the right, the ACLU.
But are those donations truly any indication of what Trump actually believes and where he would take the country if elected?
If anything is clear, it’s that Trump does not share Ted Cruz’s socially conservative beliefs. The Texas senator has campaigned against LGBT nondiscrimination laws as well as the Obergefell decision. And Cruz’s campaign has in part relied on the support of socially conservative evangelical Christians.
Trump, however, has also carved a niche in that voting population, earning the endorsement of religious leaders such as the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas.
Cruz’s stances on LGBT issues, including transgender issues, apparently don’t bother Caitlyn Jenner, who said she would like to be Cruz’s “trans ambassador.”
Kasich has a mixed record on LGBT issues but has said Obergefell is law. He has denounced, and then backed, religious business owners who want to discriminate against LGBT people.
But Kasich’s record as a member of Congress and the pragmatic governor of Ohio has earned him a reputation as a candidate who could appeal to Trump and Cruz supporters.
While political pundits across the ideological spectrum worry about the impact of Trump’s candidacy on other offices on the ballot, such as House and Senate races, Angelo said he’s not worried that LGBT Republicans will lose allies like Rep. Charles Dent of Pennsylvania and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
“We’re not worried about the Trump effect on down-ballot races. In our meetings with the National Republican Congressional Committee so far there hasn’t been concern about any down-ballot effect,” Angelo said. “Whether Log Cabin allies or not, we’re seeing no reverberating effect between the choice for president and other races.”
Angelo said it is fair game to challenge Clinton as well. Like the Trump advertisement, Log Cabin Republicans have also run an ad attacking Clinton for supporting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act.
Richard Socarides, a Democratic political strategist and writer who worked in the Clinton administration and who is gay, isn’t buying Angelo’s argument.
“Trump is the very essence of inconsistency. Even if he articulated where he stood on LGBT rights now, I’m not sure we could have any confidence that he would not change his mind next week, next month, or next year. He is all over the place,” Socraides wrote in an e-mail.
“We’ve been entirely consistent. We’ll demand accountability for and hold feet — his feet or her feet — to the fire. We’ll continue to do what we’ve always done: fighting for recognition. We have a lot more work to do,” Angelo said.
(Longtime gay Republican leader Rob Schlein of Dallas supports Trump in his race for president, and before the Texas Primary suggested that Hillary Clinton supporters should vote, instead, in the Republican Primary and cast their ballots for Trump in an effort to limit the number of delegates Ted Cruz would gain in Texas. Dallas Voice contacted Schlein for comment for this article, but he had not responded by press deadline.)
Senior staff writer David Taffet also contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2016.