One of the year’s more inexplicable political developments came shortly after the mass-shooting in Orlando, when Republicans clumsily made the case that LGBT voters should move towards the GOP. The pitch was a little convoluted.
As Donald Trump tried to explain it, Democratic support for immigration and religious liberty is ultimately bad for the LGBT community, so the Orlando slaying should reshuffle the partisan and ideological deck. The presumptive Republican nominee went so far as to say he’s the “better friend” of the “LBGT” [sic] community because of his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim agenda.
There was never any reason to believe this outreach would be effective, but if it caused even a few voters to reconsider old assumptions, congressional Republicans have gone out of their way to bolt a door that probably wasn’t accessible in the first place. The Huffington Post reported last week:
For the past two months, GOP lawmakers in the House haven’t missed an opportunity to slip anti-LGBT provisions into bills. They passed a National Defense Authorization Act with language to let government contractors fire people for being gay or trans. They tried to pass a 2017 water and energy spending bill with a provision barring the Obama administration from blocking funds to North Carolina over its transgender bathroom law. When Democrats tried twice to strip the anti-LGBT provision from NDAA, Republicans overruled them.And those are just bills that made it to the House floor. At the committee level, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) recently tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the 2017 legislative branch spending bill to ban trans people who visit the U.S. Capitol or the Library of Congress from using bathrooms that match their gender identity.
As if this weren’t quite enough, the House Oversight Committee is scheduled tomorrow to take up the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” which would allow any entity that receives public funding to discriminate against LGBT Americans on the basis of religion, effectively scrapping President Obama’s executive order on the issue.
One might conclude the Republicans’ post-Orlando outreach to LGBT voters wasn’t altogether sincere.
While GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill push measures intended to make discrimination easier, Republicans writing the party’s national platform continue to fight against marriage equality, calling for the “reversal” of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, “whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.”
The party’s latest draft platform also condemns the Obama administration’s efforts to ensure the rights of transgender Americans, while offering support to businesses that deny services to same-sex couples.
The New York Times took note over the weekend of some of the officials on the Republican platform committee:
There is Cynthia Dunbar of Virginia, who has compared the gay rights movement to Nazism. Hardy Billington, a committee member from Missouri, placed an ad in a local paper asserting that homosexuality kills people at two to three times the rate of smoking. And Mary Frances Forrester of North Carolina has claimed that the “homosexual agenda is trying to change the course of Western civilization.”[James Bopp Jr.] of Indiana recently wrote to delegates to say that the Republican Party has always opposed threats to traditional marriage “beginning with our opposition to the ‘twin relics of barbarism’ of slavery and polygamy in our 1856 platform.”
Let’s just say Republican outreach to LGBT voters isn’t a real priority for the party right now.