Ric Grenell, GOP Launch Fruitless Bid to Attract LGBTQ Voters

He used to run National Intelligence, when he wasn't trolling Angela Merkel, but now Ric Grenell has some sort of queer outreach job at the Republican National Committee. Ouch!
Reuters/ Denis Balibouse

You’re demoted!

That apparently was the message President Donald Trump sent to Ric Grenell, the out gay former US ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence who was once a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet — many of whom have only “acting” status themselves —and a prominent figure in the federal government and in the right wing chattering class.

Nowadays Trump’s go-to gay man has been relegated to the role of senior advisor within the Republican National Committee, where he is being tasked with handling LGBTQ outreach efforts — the type of role typically assigned to a more junior player in party politics — according to Fox News.

Good luck with that.

Homophobic Republicans, aided by Vichy lackeys, kick off long-shot initiative to woo queer electorate

The new hire comes as Republicans aim to somehow attract queer voters ahead of the November general election with a strategy that appears to largely exclude transgender Americans in favor of a more narrowly defined group of “gay and lesbian” individuals. Even with that more targeted approach, the theory of the case is not strong — to say the least.

The outreach campaign awkwardly coincides with the party’s ongoing tendency to oppose LGBTQ rights time and again, from coast to coast, as evidenced by administration efforts in opposing recognition of sexual orientation and gender identity protections under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act —and related federal laws — banning trans girls and women from participating in sports, stripping healthcare protections from transgender Americans, rolling back protections for trans students, banning transgender people from the military, and more. Many of those efforts have been curtailed by federal courts.

The Log Cabin Repbulicans, the group of queer Republicans that has been embroiled in infighting during the Trump era, posted a video ad on social media featuring Grenell, who praised Trump as “the most pro-gay president in American history” and attacked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for his years-ago opposition on issues like marriage equality, something he moved the ball on considerably in 2012 when he nudged his boss, President Barack Obama, to embrace the cause as well.

Shortly after midnight on August 20, Trump retweeted the ad posted by Log Cabin Republicans and wrote, “My great honor!!!” That tweet generated more than 23,400 retweets and 84,100 likes in less than 18 hours. The Log Cabin Republicans’ ad itself has drawn more than 4.4 million views as of the afternoon of August 20.

In a similar move, Long Cabin Republicans chair Robert Kabel on August 20 penned an op-ed in USA Today voicing a series of flimsy talking points about why he believes queer folks should back an incumbent president who has repeatedly found new ways to assail the most marginalized LGBTQ communities. Kabel’s op-ed, in line with the Trump campaign’s apparent strategy, appeared to deliberately avoid addressing the burdens facing transgender individuals until the end of the piece and, in the process, made a series of misleading or outright false claims about Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues.

Among his points, Kabel praised Trump’s “previous support of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act” — something he casually mentioned a couple of decades back — without mentioning the administration’s legal effort opposing the interpetation of the 1964 Act’s Title VII to protect LGBTQ people from employment discrimination. Trump’s administration fought against the plaintiffs in the Bostock case that culminated in the Supreme Court’s June ruling ensuring non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace.

Kabel also touted what he said was the president’s “early support of gay couples having the same rights and protections as straight couples,” without mentioning Trump’s efforts to strip citizenship from bi-national children of American same-sex parents and to allow foster care and adoption agencies to reject LGBTQ parents simply because of who they are.

Perhaps the most laughable point made by Kabel was when he wrote that Trump “is likely even the first private club owner in Palm Beach, Florida, to admit an openly gay couple.” As if access to exclusive havens for the super-rich is a burning civil rights issue at this moment.

Further proof of the Trump-led Republican Party’s overwhelming opposition to basic queer rights was evident in the vote breakdown in the House of Representatives when lawmakers brought the Equality Act to a floor vote last year in the first step toward affording the community comprehensive non-discrimination protections. Only eight of the 236 House votes in favor of the Equality Act were Republicans and every lawmaker who voted against the proposed law was a Republican. Meanwhile, the bill is dead in the water for now since GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not allow a vote in that chamber.

Other talking points played up by Grenell and his GOP friends include an initiative by the Trump administration to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. That initiative has been the subject of ridicule for a number of reasons: Trump, when asked about it earlier in his presidency, said he didn’t even know about it, and the initiative has not amounted to anything. Just one nation, Botswana, has decriminalized homosexuality since the campaign was launched early last year.

In fact, the US in reality has scaled back its international efforts to take on homophobia and transphobia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo created a panel of homophobes and transphobes who devised a report criticizing the nation’s human rights advocacy posture, even arguing that the “expansion of human rights has weakened rather than strengthened the claims of human rights.”

All of this is on top of Mike Pence. Enough said on that topic.

Regardless of the pitch Republicans make to queer voters, the party has a tall task ahead of them. Exit polls showed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed 78 percent of the LGBTQ vote during the 2016 presidential election, while Trump mustered a measly 14 percent of the queer vote, according to exit polls provided to major mainstream media outlets.

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