Log Cabin Republicans endorsed some of the most anti-LGBTQ politicians running for office

President Trump stands in front of a burning pride flag
Photo: Graham Gremore

The Log Cabin Republicans – the organization for LGBTQ Republicans whose mission says that “equality for LGBT Americans is in the finest tradition of the Republican Party” – have endorsed 34 candidates from across the U.S.

An LGBTQ Nation analysis found that at least 12 candidates have records of anti-LGBTQ extremism.

Related: Voting deadlines, registration & what’s at stake for LGBTQ voters in 2020

“These candidates have earned our endorsement through their commitment to… ensuring equality under the law for all Americans,” LCR claims, but many of them have been reported on by LGBTQ Nation in the past for their opposition to equality.

Most of the remaining candidates state any support LGBTQ rights in their campaign materials, make vague references to “religious freedom” in their campaign materials, and have thin or nonexistent records on LGBTQ issues. They were not included in the list of anti-LGBTQ candidates endorsed by the LCR.

Donald Trump – A former reality television host running for re-election as president this year, LGBTQ Nation has already compiled a list of his many attacks on LGBTQ equality since he was sworn into office in 2017.

Notable achievements of his administration include rolling back protections for transgender people in homeless shelters, schools, and health care (although some of these executive moves are being challenged in courts), banning transgender people in the military via Twitter, and asking the Supreme Court to limit civil rights protections for LGBTQ people.

He is currently trying to get a judge who has worked for an anti-LGBTQ hate group appointed to the Supreme Court.

Mike Pence – He served in the U.S. House and as governor of the state of Indiana, crafting a public image as a consistent opponent of LGBTQ rights. He is currently running for re-election as vice president; he has reportedly been at the center of the Trump administration’s anti-transgender efforts in their first term.

Pence has a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism, going back to 1992 when he said that being gay is “learned behavior” and his 2000 House campaign where he advocated federal funds for conversion therapy to fight HIV; continuing to his time in the House, when he opposed LGBTQ equality every chance he got; and most notably, as governor of Indiana, his mismanagement that led to the state’s worst HIV outbreak in history.

Young Kim – She is a former media personality and one-term California Assemblywoman, representing northern Orange County from 2014 to 2016.

Prior to that, Kim worked for then state Sen. Ed Royce for over 20 years and “espoused many of the same anti-LGBTQ positions” as her boss, according to the LA Blade. Royce, who went on to serve in the U.S. Congress, consistently received a “0” rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.

From there, Kim launched local political radio and television shows geared toward Korean-Americans before leading an upset against Democrat Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva in 2014. In the race, Kim’s most notable political ad was her promise to overturn California law allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom that conforms with their gender identity. The LGBT Center of Orange County officially condemned her for it.

She also said during the race that gender identity and sexual orientation are determined by “the environment one grows up in,” and while LGBTQ individuals “deserve to be respected,” she did not support marriage equality.

Quirk-Silva won in a rematch against Kim in 2016. Kim ran against Gil Cisneros for Congress in 2018 and lost – and now, she is running against him again.

Michelle Steel – A member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors running against Rep. Harley Rouda for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Steel has a history of voting against pro-LGBTQ initiatives, funding for LGBTQ initiatives, and even studies on LGBTQ people.

Her opponent is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights legislation.

Most notably, Steel bragged in an unearthed video from 2014 about removing her daughter from college at University of California, Santa Cruz because she began supporting marriage equality, as LGBTQ Nation reported. Steel sent her daughter to the Jesuit Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles for “one year of brainwash” in anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

Anna Paulina Luna – A political newcomer, Luna is running as the Republican candidate for Florida’s 13th U.S. House District.

Her campaign website touts her experience in the U.S. Air Force and presents her as a tough truth teller: “I’m not going to lie to your face and tell you what you want to hear,” she says in a campaign ad.

And her version of telling the truth includes saying that LGBTQ people are trying to make pedophilia socially acceptable.

Fred Upton – An incumbent U.S. Representative running for reelection in Michigan, he voted against marriage equality, against LGBTQ discrimination protections, and against adoption protections for LGBTQ people. Upton also boasts consistently low ratings from the Human Rights Campaign going all the way back to the early George W. Bush administration.

His opponent in this year’s race is out state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D), who seeks to be the first gay member of Congress from Michigan. A Republican PAC supporting Upton has ran ads calling Hoadley “creepy” and falsely claiming he is a meth addict and a “pedo sex poet,” in what has become considered one of the most homophobic electoral races in years. Upton has refused to denounce the ads.

Nicole Maliotakis – A New York state Assemblywoman from Staten Island, she is running for a U.S. House seat against incumbent Rep. Max Rose (D), a member of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus.

Maliotakis was vocally against marriage equality – she voted against it in the Assembly in 2011 – but the measure passed anyway. She expressed regrets when running for mayor of New York City in 2017.

She also voted against the successful Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which added gender identity as a protected class in state discrimination laws in 2017.

“If a man were to follow someone into a restroom… they’re there because they want to commit a crime against a woman,” Maliotakis told Gay City News at the time, citing the law as “a loophole… to commit a type of sex crime.”

In a recent review of her “dismal” LGBTQ record, Gay City News also notes that “Malliotakis’ hostility to LGBTQ causes extends beyond her voting record,” mentioning that she still attended the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade as late as last year despite their ban on LGBTQ people or Pride organizations, which many other Republicans in the borough have condemned and avoided.

Nancy Mace – She is a state representative in South Carolina and former Trump campaign staff member who is running for the U.S. House in South Carolina’s 1st District. In 2014, she was one of several conservatives who challenged Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) in a primary for his Senate seat.

During that race, she retweeted claims that Graham was a “Nancy boy,” which seemed to hint at rumors of the senator’s sexuality. Mace first claimed it was a staffer’s fault before taking responsibility and having it taken down. She received 6.2% of the vote in the primary and got “Crazy Republican of the Day” honors from DailyKos.

Mace is known as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel in 1999, but she also became infamous for promoting claims by her business partner that then Gov. Nikki Haley (R) had engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship with him. Mace used her conservative blog that she apparently co-owns, FitsNews, to promote the rumor while working for a candidate running against Haley.

This year, she is attacking her opponent Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), the incumbent she is currently running against for his seat in the House. An ad from her campaign accused Cunningham of trying to shut down a Marine Corps base on Parris Island with a bill that protected “transgendered equality,” but LGBTQ Nation reported at the time that there was no proof of her claim nor has there been a law passed that guaranteed transgender people equality in the military.

Dan Crenshaw – He is the incumbent Congressman for Texas’s 2nd District and an Afghanistan War veteran.

Crenshaw has supported marriage equality, insofar as he believes that the government should not regulate marriage. He also has claimed that “anti-homosexual marriage” is “the worst thing” that modern Christians support, as opposed to “sex slaves, sharia law and beheadings” which he claims is supported by modern Islam.

But he is far from as supportive of transgender and non-binary people. He has mocked how people “complain vehemently about proper pronoun usage” in his book, Fortitude: American Resilience in the Age of Outrage.

When a battle over custody and the gender identity of a trans child in Texas became headline news, Rep. Crenshaw supported James Younger, a transgender girl’s father who was fighting to force his daughter to present as a boy against her more supportive mother.  The courts ruled against him receiving custody or conservatorship. Crenshaw called the ruling “heartbreaking” on Twitter, because it “sets a horrible precedent.”

Sima Ladjevardian, who has “LGBTQ+ Equality” as a key issue she supports, is the Democrat running against him.

Clarence Burgess Owens – A former NFL standout safety and Super Bowl champion, Owens became an outspoken Trump supporter and frequent Fox News guest, disavowing his past as a “cocky liberal” as he runs for U.S. Representative in Utah against incumbent and Equality Act supporter Ben McAdams.

A QAnon supporter, Owens has previously called LGBTQ organizations “anti-God leftists against anything that the Christian faith is all about.”

He also defended NFL player Drew Brees and praised him for working with Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defending Freedom, despite their status as anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Madison Cawthorn – Cawthorn is running in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District and, at age 24, would be the youngest member of Congress if he wins.

But his youth doesn’t mean he’s accepting of LGBTQ people. His website repeatedly stresses his vague support for “religious freedom” and “family,” both historically code words for opposition to LGBTQ rights, and he doesn’t affirm support for LGBTQ rights on his site.

His opposition to LGBTQ equality was made explicit in an appearance on a conservative talk show several months ago, when he said that the LGBTQ movement used to be about “two people who wanted to be able to get married.”

“But now it’s saying that we need to be able to have gender reassignment surgery for 12-year-olds,” he continued. Claiming that liberals or LGBTQ people want to perform gender affirmation surgery on prepubescent children – something that almost never happens – is a common scare tactic used to shut down discussions of LGBTQ rights.

“They never stopped at a line. They always go further,” he concluded. So it sounds like anything that hasn’t already happened – like, say, federal civil rights protections – is off the table for Cawthorn.

Matt Mowers – A former employee of the Trump administration who served as the Senior Adviser to the State Department, Mowers is running against out incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH).

Mowers won the GOP primary against former Log Cabin leader and out candidate Matt Mayberry. In a rare move, Mowers received an endorsement from Trump before the primary, when Mayberry was still viable.

HRC recently accused Mowers of exhibiting a “pattern of behavior” by bringing up a man Pappas dated. “We won’t stand for it,” they said.

Mowers was executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, which opposes marriage equality. Mayberry was also vice chair of the state party.

Mowers explained that he believes marriage should not be regulated by the government but didn’t do anything to change the state party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Only two of the candidates that the Log Cabin Republicans endorse appear to be out LGBTQ candidates.

John Paul Moran is running to be the first gay Republican elected from the state of Massachusetts to Congress. He touts himself as an “openly gay former surf brand entrepreneur and an MIT space telescope scientist” who believes he has a law proposal that will “finally bridge the gap of ensuring and guaranteeing LBGTQ rights with religious rights.” He is running against Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton.

The other is George Devolder-Santos, who claims to be the first out GOP candidate in New York state history. He is running against Rep. Tom Suozzi for his seat in the House in New York’s 3rd District. LGBTQ equality or protections against discrimination aren’t mentioned in explaining his platform to Ballotpedia, but preventing “churches and synagogues from ever being mandated upon by the government” is.

Alex Bollinger also contributed to this article.

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