Former GOP Activist: I'm Done With the Party of Bigots
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/Jason Osborne
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
I've been a Republican activist all my life. As a volunteer and professional staffer, I held positions in party organizations and campaigns since high school. I was the ultimate partisan team player, even forming GOProud, an organization for gay conservatives and their allies. But I no longer recognize the party I grew up supporting, and I recently announced that I have changed my voter registration to "no party."
I left the Republican party because it no longer represents my principles and values. I am a limited government conservative, yet Republicans today like big government, as long as they are in charge of it. I also don't tolerate bigotry of any kind, and today's party does. While most Republicans I've known over the years aren't bigots, they tolerate and kowtow to the few who are. The wrong voices have dominated policy debates.
During the 2012 election campaign, I came to the conclusion that the Republican party is incapable of ever winning another national election, because the tolerance of anti-gay activist and other forms of bigotry in the party prevent too many voters from even considering voting for even the Republican candidate.
The organization I founded, GOProud, was the de facto "Gays for Mitt Romney" in the 2012 election. During that campaign, I saw that Romney was held captive and paralyzed with fear of retribution from anti-gay and other forces of intolerance in the GOP.
He couldn't even do real outreach in the gay community and those who support gay rights for concern that he would be talking to "unapproved" groups. I am truly convinced that even if he wanted to reach out to the 47 percent of Americans who support gay marriage, he couldn't have. The forces of intolerance wouldn't have let him.
My first indication of this happened during the primary campaign when I made a small financial contribution to his campaign. Even though everyone else at the fundraising event I attended had their contribution correctly reported to the Federal Elections Commission, my occupation and employer was mysteriously listed as "requested." I immediately knew that Romney didn't want anyone to notice that the head of the gay organization was supporting his campaign.
After he secured the nomination, Romney wouldn't stand up for my friend Richard Grenell when he was under fire from the anti-gay folks. Grenell had been hired as Romney's foreign policy spokesman, but the intolerant wing of the GOP objected because he is openly gay. Romney failed to back his spokesman and Grenell felt compelled to leave his job with the campaign.
There were many more examples of Romney rejecting opportunities to stand up to the bigots and demonstrate some basic level inclusion. Many of them occurred at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida.
Romney's convention deliberately featured diverse speakers representing nearly every single major demographic group, except two — Muslims and gays. Those are two of the groups that are still OK to exclude (if not demonize) among Republicans, and Romney didn't want anyone to know that he might actually know any of them by putting them on his convention stage.
At that convention, he couldn't even bring himself to send a surrogate speaker to GOProud's event to thank the 900 attendees for their support. Honestly, the list of examples could go on an on. By the end of the campaign, I had come to the realization that if Mitt Romney didn't have the backbone to stand up to the forces of intolerance in the Republican party, then he didn't have the backbone to be president of the United States.