Robert Kabel (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
In a Washington Post oped Robert Kabel and Jill Homan write about the Republican Party: “This is the party that Trump has helped make possible by moving past the culture wars that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, in particular by removing gay rights as a wedge issue from the old Republican playbook.”
I have always considered Bob Kabel a friend and a rational person. According to his Wikipedia page “He has been involved in Republican politics throughout his career; during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, Kabel served for three years as Special Assistant to President Reagan for Legislative Affairs. He is a former Legislative Director for Senator Richard Lugar and former Legislative Assistant to Senator Paul Fannin.”
We often disagreed on policy issues, he being conservative and I being a liberal, but we have always been able to have conversations over coffee or a drink without animosity. After reading his oped I had real concern he may have been on some kind of hallucinogenic drug to have written the drivel contained in it. As a smart, well-respected attorney it must be clear even to him he could never have won a case for a client if in their defense he relied on the few facts he cobbled together in his defense of Trump.
In whose universe do the following actions remove gay rights as a Republican wedge issue? Trump “announced a ban on transgender people in the military; fired the entire sitting presidential AIDS commission; decided not to collect data on LGBTQ people in the census; pulled questions about LGBTQ seniors in a health survey on the elderly; supported employer discrimination against LGBTQ people; backed allowing discrimination in public accommodations against LGBTQ people; appointed anti-LGBTQ judges to federal courts; and said he would stop investigating discrimination against trans students in bathrooms, among many other hostile actions.” How does one pretend all this didn’t happen?
How does one convince themselves Trump supports the LGBTQ community when he opposes the Equality Act and wants to allow discrimination by small business against the community? In 2018, in more than 21 states, Republicans have filed anti-LGBTQ bills from restricting healthcare, allowing businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and specific bills targeting the transgender community. Despite this, Log Cabin Republicans claim Trump has removed gay rights as a wedge issue for Republicans while he has never uttered one word against any of the bills filed and has endorsed some of their sponsors for office.
To suggest Trump has moved the Republican Party past culture wars beyond the LGBTQ community is outrageous and a lie. He has led the country into the most virulent culture wars since the Civil War. He began his campaign calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. He attacked Judge Curiel as a Mexican who couldn’t be impartial. He made a campaign promise to “establish a ban on Muslims entering the United States.” His administration puts immigrant children into cages and recently told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu not to allow two members of Congress into Israel because he disagreed with them. The two just happen to be women of color and Muslims. This is the man Robert Kabel and Jill Homan claim has moved the country past the culture wars of the 1990s.
My writing about Trump is nothing new. From my column immediately after the 2016 election, which was one word “Pray” to my most recent column “Trump is the nightmare from which we don’t wake up,” I have clearly been opposed to Trump and his most outrageous policies. As a gay man who came out late in life, I have tried to work toward a world in which young boys and girls can feel free to be themselves from an early age knowing they will be able to live full, successful and safe lives. Trump and his Republican sycophants by their words and policies are putting those children’s lives and futures in jeopardy.
It is not enough to say as Kabel and Homan do “we do not agree with every policy or platform position presented by the White House or the Republican Party,” when so many of those policies and platform positions will and do result in long-term harm to so many. The culture wars President Trump is stirring up in his efforts to appease his fringe base, which now includes the Log Cabin Republicans, will take generations to heal. The genie of hate he has released will be nearly impossible to put back in the bottle and our children and grandchildren will continue to suffer from the world Trump has wrought.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.