But the main attraction, of course, was Trump. He received a standing ovation after delivering an enthusiastic assertion of gay rights rarely heard in the GOP.
“We fight for the gay community, and we fight and fight hard,” said the former president and 2024 candidate. “With the help of many people here tonight over the past few years, our movement has made incredible progress, the progress you’ve made here is incredible. »
Throughout the evening, speakers praised Trump for his embrace of the gay community. They credited him for his initiatives against the criminalization of homosexuality, his work in favor of public health initiatives to combat the HIV epidemic and for the appointment of the first openly gay member of the Cabinet, Grenell, as Director of National Intelligence.
Trump and his administration had a mixed record on LGBTQ issues. He has been criticized for driving a wedge between the gay and transgender communities, and for promoting extreme religious freedom policies and decrees they say enabled the discrimination against LGBTQ people that set the movement back. The Log Cabin Republicans’ first female executive director, Jerri Ann Henry, resigned in 2019 over the group’s decision to endorse Trump.
The Log Cabin Republicans gala took place just days after the Respect for Marriage Act was passed with the support of 39 House Republicans and 12 GOP senators and signed into law by Biden. But the issue of same-sex marriage continued to spark debate within the GOP. Conservative and right-wing Christian groups lobbied against the legislation, arguing it infringed on religious freedoms.
According to Gallup55% of Republicans and 71% of Americans overall support same-sex marriage.
In an interview on Fox News earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — a Trump rival widely considered one of the GOP’s top prospects in 2024 — said there was “no need” of the Respect for Marriage Act and called right-wing concerns about religious liberty “valid. »
Trump did not mention the law in his speech. But gala attendees were quick to credit the former president: For all his recent missteps, they said he went further on LGBTQ rights than many others in the GOP.
Charles Moran, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, challenged the other 2024 hopefuls to also say they are ready to fight for gay rights.
“I just heard a Republican presidential candidate stand up and say he’s ready to fight and I challenge all other Republicans to make the same promise that Donald Trump made tonight,” Moran said.
“I will hold all applicants to the same standard,” he added in a later interview. “We’re really at a place now where we’re going to have an open election and there will be other Republicans in contention, and we have a responsibility to look at the entire Republican field. »
Moran and his group worked behind the scenes to build support for the Respect for Marriage Act and brought at least four GOP members of Congress on board. He noted that elected House Republican Majority Whip Tom Emmer is an ally of the group and wants to proactively engage on the legislation.
One of the Log Cabin Republicans’ main legislative goals is the “Servicemen’s Honor Restoration Act,” which would provide the ability for those dishonorably discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to have their release status changed.
Trump’s appearance came weeks after his lackluster presidential campaign debut and murderous headlines, prompted by the former president himself. While his campaign sputtered, he largely shunned the spotlight. On Thursday night, he pushed back against the idea that his approval ratings are down as a result, calling the polls all “fake”.
In an effort to get out of recent controversies, Trump is expected to deliver political speeches related to specific parts of his platform and plans to do interviews with a mix of media outlets, aides say. He will also announce other campaign hires, they said.
While the gala centered around the new same-sex marriage law, the gala speakers also cracked light-hearted jokes. Trump, for his part, considered having his wife Melania Trump join Grenell, who is gay, on a trip from Log Cabin Republicans to Beverly Hills, Calif., last week.
“She flew to California with Ric, and I trusted her 100% with her,” Trump said with a laugh.
Lake, who recently lost his bid for governor but did not concede defeat and recently launched a legal challenge to the election results, credited the group with supporting his campaign, but shared his recent court case.
“We just had such a huge movement before Election Day, to look at these people – these evil bastards, can I say that here? To see them steal this election in broad daylight, and if they think they’re going to get away with it, they’ve been playing the wrong female dog,” she said to cheers.
But despite all the applause and crowds, the band members have at times recognized themselves as part of the Republican Party that has felt mislabeled, judged and ostracized over the years.
Tammy Bruce, a lesbian and conservative commentator, received the band’s ‘Spirit of Lincoln’ award in 2022 and spoke about the challenges she faced.
“I know there are still issues with how we are viewed on occasion. But what I also know is that visibility matters and fanaticism only survives because people can only use their imaginations,” she said. “Suddenly things change when you find out your son or daughter is gay. »
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Scenes from a Gay Marriage Law Celebration – at Mar-a-Lago
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