A decision by the Alabama Republican Party to bar openly gay Jason White from running for sheriff is just another chapter in the cautionary love story between gay Republicans, their political party and their sexual orientation.
These accounts often raise more questions than they could possibly answer. Was White’s rejection the result of political philosophy based solely on geography; is this a case of hard line beliefs that trickle down from the Oval Office, and into local politics; or are stories like White’s an example of a tremendous backswell reaction to years of liberal legislation that forced acceptance of LGBTQ policies onto the shores of the socially and progressively unprepared
White, who served as a detective for the Athens Police Department for 22 years, was questioned by the state’s party for several hours, resulting in the committee concluding he was not conservative enough for their nomination. White claimed they shared concerns about whether a small southern town would embrace him as an openly gay man. He also doesn’t remember this component of the process the last time he ran in the mid 2000s, when he was married to a woman.
“It is not the party I remember,” White says. “The party today wants to be a theocracy. I was hoping more people like me could try to change it. I respect other people’s religious beliefs, but I think there is a reason they should remain separate from government — because people have different religions.” White will run for the same office as an Independent.
Other LGBT Republicans, meanwhile, are staying aboard the Trump train.
The Log Cabin Republicans shared a letter from President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on social media a day after the president’s proclamation for “Religious Freedom Day.” The letter, dated Dec. 21, was praised by the group as it supposedly shows the president’s support for LGBT Americans.
“No matter the color of our skin or our sexual orientation, we all live under the same laws, salute the same great American flag, and are made in the image of the same Almighty God,” according to the letter.
Log Cabin’s president, Gregory T. Angelo, shared the letter with his members in an email, in which he expressed gratitude toward the president and his wife for “their best wishes for our future as we forge ahead, together, toward a more equal America.”
Meanwhile, on Jan. 16 the president shared his “Religious Freedom Day” proclamation, the intent of which is to allow discrimination against LGBT people, erasing over 100 years of federal non-discrimination law.
“No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law,” Trump says in his proclamation.
Log Cabin as a national organization ultimately did not endorse Trump but has still appeared to turn a blind eye to his blatantly obvious anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions — including simply the choice of Mike Pence, the national face of anti-LGBT politics, as vice president. Nonetheless, in December 2016 Angelo came to Trump’s defense on MSNBC: “His record doesn’t bear out that that would be an enemy to the gay community.”
But the question Log Cabin Republicans are faced with is: will their party and their president finally accept them The GOP, at least in Alabama certainly answers that question.