After the Texas GOP Convention in June added language to their platform declaring that “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice”; after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an order this year equating transgender care for minors with child abuse; after the Texas Legislature passed a bill in 2021 banning transgender kids from sports teams that align with their identity; and after U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared this weekend that his pronouns are “kiss my ass”… Texas Log Cabin Republicans are finally admitting the obvious: “We failed.”
The group of gay Republicans, founded in the late 1970’s as a safe space for LGBTQ establishment types in the GOP, is looking on in disappointment as the few gains they did make over four decades evaporate under the Texas sun.
“We failed to moderate the Republican party,” said Paul von Wupperfeld, now a 56-year-old Democrat who has not voted Republican since 2000. “I’m glad we tried, and I think we did the right thing by trying. We’re actually going the other way, faster and faster.”
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They had been warned.
When von Wupperfeld served as the first president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas in 1990, the GOP party platform called homosexuality “biologically and morally unsound” and compared same-sex relationships to “necrophilia, pedophilia, bestiality, or incest.”
By 2012, the Texas GOP had abandoned a platform condemning sodomy, after the Supreme Court overturned anti-sodomy laws in 13 states with Lawrence v. Texas nine years earlier (though moot, Texas’ anti-sodomy law is still on the books).
But the state party also retained the official position that “homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible.”
As social and religious conservatives rose in prominence in the Texas GOP through the 90’s, Log Cabin Republicans confronted increasing hostility in the party.
GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan delivered his infamous Culture Wars speech from Houston in 1992, declaring, “We stand with [President George H.W. Bush] against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.”
The Travis County GOP added language in its 1994 platform opposing “homosexual education” in public schools.
The Galveston County GOP called for all HIV patients to be quarantined.
In 1998 at a Ft. Worth convention, Log Cabin Republicans were protesting a state GOP official who compared the group to the Ku Klux Klan and pedophiles, when counter-protesters showed up pushing and spitting and carrying signs like “The Gay Life = AIDS Then Hell.”
And the group was repeatedly denied a booth at state conventions.
Getting a booth was “a signal of party approval,” recalled Paul Carpenter, another past Log Cabin president. “You have ‘arrived’ and are accepted in the GOP.”
The group has never been awarded a booth.
The most recent blow, coming at the state convention in June with delegates adopting a plank declaring “homosexuality is an abnormal lifestyle choice,” is just the latest indication of Log Cabin impotence.
While past members see their efforts as futile, some current leadership cling to accommodation.
“There are over 270 planks in the GOP platform,” said Michael Cargill, president of the Austin Log Cabin chapter. “There are only four planks that we disagree on.”