There are few instances of partisan rhetoric which surprise me anymore, but last weekend’s New York City Pride march grabbed my attention in an unsavory way.
Sandwiched between messages of love, acceptance, and respect, a group of parade-goers marched with a rainbow-colored banner emblazoned with the phrase “REPUBLICAN HATE KILLS!”
Heritage of Pride, the organizing body behind New York City’s Pride events, should be ashamed.
Last I checked, the shooter in the terrorist attack on Orlando’s gay nightclub pulse was a registered Democrat who pledged his allegiance to ISIS—not the Republican Party.
Infusing the country’s original and largest LGBT Pride celebration with such an irresponsible message is a sure way to alienate future GOP allies—and even current ones!
After June 12, 2016, we observed a marked change in the tenor and tone of how politicians—especially Republicans—discuss LGBT issues. In an emotional speech Utah’s Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, himself an outspoken conservative, addressed the crowd at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting, admitting, “My heart has changed. It has changed because of you. It has changed because I have gotten to know many of you. You have been patient with me.”
Before the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision making marriage equality the law of the land, 8 states had legalized same-sex marriage by legislative vote. Without Republican support, Illinois would not have held enough “Yea” votes to pass its marriage equality bill. Vermont would not have had the numbers to reverse the Governor’s veto to its law. And every Republican in Rhode Island’s State Senate voted in support of marriage equality. New York’s State Senate passed marriage equality under a Republican majority and close to 100 Republicans in New Hampshire’s state house voted against a statewide marriage equality ban. In total, over 200 Republican legislators voted to uphold same sex marriage. That’s not a negligible number.
It’s no secret that Log Cabin Republicans, the pro-LGBT conservative group for which I have the honor of serving as President, often has major differences with the administration of Barack Obama, but I had no problem putting partisanship aside last week to thank the President for designating New York City’s Stonewall Inn as a National Monument in commemoration of LGBT history.
Those marching behind the “Republican Hate Kills” banner clearly know no such benevolence.
This partisan demonization obstructs the path toward the civil protections we all deserve.
When Republicans from Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio and the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump acknowledged that the massacre in Orlando as an attack on the gay community, it was a breakthrough moment: A Republican understanding that members of the LGBT community face heightened risks of violence simply because of who they are.
That the reaction from the contingent at the NYC Pride march was to demonize Republicans was unconscionable—not to mention incredibly dumb.
Here’s a newsflash for the “Republican Hate Kills” crew: If you want to achieve the passage of pro-LGBT legislation and stop anti-gay bills from passing, you’re going to need Republican support.
I called New York City home for more than a decade and marched with Log Cabin Republicans and GOP elected officials in its Pride parades. Now I wonder if my own identity excludes me.
Hopefully, in the future, Heritage of Pride will exercise greater restraint before green-lighting groups promoting such ignorant, inflammatory rhetoric, and come to a deeper understanding that the New York City Gay Pride Parade should not be a showcase for hyperpartisan provocateurs, but inclusion for all.
Gregory T. Angelo is the President of Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s premier organization representing LGBT conservatives and allies. Visit www.logcabin.org for more information.