“We have abundant reason to rejoice that, in this Land, the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition.” —George Washington
Gays for Gramm
In October 1984, beneath a makeshift tent on the West Mall of the University of Texas, gay Republicans were out in force, trying to get Phil Gramm elected to the US Senate. They were the Log Cabin Republicans.
On being asked why they were supporting Phil Gramm (R-TX) for Senate, a robust man in a necktie stepped forward to field the question. He responded by saying, “I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we feel more comfortable as gays and lesbians around our Republican friends than we do as Republicans around our gay and lesbian friends.” Everyone at the table nodded their agreement. Then a woman added, “Today, I am officially out of the closet as a conservative Republican, but I think some of my friends already suspected.”
Goldwater on Gays
Barry Goldwater, after retiring from the US Senate, endorsed the view that gays should serve openly in the military. Goldwater said this was not a sudden liberal turn (as the Washington Post would have its readership believe: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/may98/goldwater072894.htm) but was consistent with true libertarian conservatism: “The big thing is to make this country . . . quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay. You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a Constitutional right to be gay.”
After all, should a country that celebrates “liberty and justice for all” champion discrimination against any group? And is it not the bona fide role of a patriotic conservative to keep the government out of the people’s hair, as much as possible?
Barack Obama has become the first American president to endorse same-sex marriage, all but ensuring that any Democrat nominated in the future will have to run on a platform that supports marriage equality for gays. And the Supreme Court has declared the federal government’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman to be un-Constitutional. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bears the Obama stamp, and Obama has also made the human rights of LGBT people abroad a key component of US foreign policy. All of this has been effective in moving many gays into the ranks of the Democrat Party.
In a political landscape where Republicans need broad support across the board, to restore Constitutional government and its freedom agenda, the GOP needs to attract gay voters. It is all about gaining every increment of support that is possible, and it is also about Constitutionally-guaranteed equal protection under the law.
Washington’s Tolerance of Homosexuality
Our Founders lived during the Enlightenment, and tolerance was held in high regard. George Washington, during the Revolutionary War, employed a Prussian military officer named Baron Friedrich von Steuben (pronounced “fohn Shtoyben”) to train American soldiers using his superior Prussian military methods. Washington also had von Steuben write a military training manual for the American armed forces, which would remain in use for decades.
Von Steuben had been discharged from the Prussian military due to his “affections for members of his own sex,” in spite of his reputation as a military genius. Fleeing imprisonment, von Steuben ended up in France, where he encountered none other than Ambassador Benjamin Franklin, and received, in consequence thereof, a commission in Washington’s army. Dr. Franklin decided von Steuben’s military expertise trumped consideration of any issues that might derive from his sexual orientation. The cause of freedom would benefit, it was decided, from tolerance with respect to the issue.
Washington came to value von Steuben as a friend. And so it was that George Washington, the Father of Our Country, through his tolerance of an outcast military genius, made Friedrich von Steuben the Progenitor of a more professional American Armed Forces.
The Spirit of Lincoln
Mary Cheney gave the keynote address to the Spirit of Lincoln Event that was sponsored by the Log Cabin Republicans, on September 17, 2014, in Washington, DC. In her speech, she said that Log Cabin Republicans stood for values critical to our country’s future freedom and spoke of them:
“I am not a Republican with reservations, comfortable with some core convictions but not with others. I am not a conflicted conservative, struggling to reconcile personal views with settled principles.
“Sometimes you hear people speak as if freedom and equality for gay Americans requires some sort of radical departure from the ideals of the party of Lincoln. And this never fails to amaze me—because I always thought freedom and equality were the ideals of the party of Lincoln. . . .
“I believe that the free market can almost always find a better, faster, and more creative solution to a problem than the government can. I believe in the Bill of Rights, and, when I read it, I don’t skip from the First Amendment to the Third. The right of citizens to keep and bear arms is critically important for our nation, and I am proud to be a responsible gun owner. And I believe that Ronald Reagan was right when he said, ‘Man is not free unless Government is limited.’” (Mary Cheney’s remarks can be found here: http://www.logcabin.org/pressrelease/keynote-address-from-mary-cheney-at-the-log-cabin-republicans-2014-spirit-of-lincoln-event/.)
Republicans now live in a world where our First Amendment is under attack daily, in no small measure by a unified Democrat Party that now supports the Udall Amendment. (To learn more about the Udall Amendment, read here: http://eaglerising.com/9516/will-obama-democrats-repeal-first-amendment/). It is time for Republicans to realize that everyone who wants a place under their tent is welcome. It is time Republicans join with others solely on the basis of philosophy of governance. It is time to extend mercy to Log Cabin Republicans, who have been trying for three decades to take a seat at the table of Republican politics. It is time to give every one of them a seat. To do so would be a blessing for all involved. Indeed, as Shakespeare so wisely put it, “The quality of mercy is not strained. . . . It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com