Here we are, deja vu all over again. The Republican Party of Texas’ State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) has once again denied the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas the opportunity to rent a booth at the RPT’s convention this summer. It is by now a biennial event, with the outcome assured beforehand, despite the farcical pretense of debate.
It is frustrating to watch the demise of the Republican Party but I find that I no longer care. If the “grassroots” wishes to speed up the loss of Republican power in Texas, who am I to complain? At this point in time, no one can reasonably claim that Texas Republicans represent liberty and freedom better than Texas Democrats do. Or fiscal policy for that matter.
As I watched the debate (several times now), a couple of things stand out. One is not that important to me, one is extremely important.
Fear of ‘they’ and ‘them’
Clearly, the people voting against this measure are scared of a group of people that they do not know or understand. Repeatedly during the discussion, the speakers against the booth referred to their fellow Republicans as ‘they’ and ‘them’ while referring to ‘our party’ and ‘our beliefs’.
I have been a member of the Houston chapter of the LCR and we have broken bread together, discussed policy together and laughed at our corny jokes together. I have never once been scared that the men and women around me would tie me up and force their ‘lifestyle’ on me. And yet repeatedly during the discussion, SREC members expressed their fear that they and their children would be exposed to the ‘lifestyle’ of LCR members if they were able to rent booth space and pass out literature advocating various policy positions, most of them very conservative.
Every time I hear someone protest that about being exposed to a gay person’s ‘lifestyle’, I’m reminded of the first time I sat down with Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. It was in 2014 and she was challenging a corrupt Republican for the office. She expressed frustration over the attacks on her ‘lifestyle’, saying something along the lines of “Lifestyle? That’s my family.”. Indeed, she had been in a monogamous relationship and provided a stable home for her children far longer than many Republicans that I know.
If you want two specific examples of SREC members that clearly don’t know any LCR members (other than me I suppose), I’ll use the two members from my senate district, SD11. For some reason, J.T. Edwards is really, really scared of LCR members. Go to the 1:26:20 mark in the video above and you hear J.T. ask if additional money has been allocated for the necessary increased security that such a booth will need. My goodness J.T., you really, seriously need to get out more.
J.T.’s counterpart, Tanya Robertson, goes for the kill with her desire for making the convention a ‘safe space’ for her children. Go to the 1:22:35 mark in the video for her remarks. Note that she says that her children worked in previous conventions and they have ‘stories’. She doesn’t go into detail about those ‘stories’ but there is one thing that we know for a fact: the Log Cabin Republicans did not have a booth at those previous conventions. So, that begs the question…#metoo? Doesn’t it?
I have an offer for J.T. and Tanya. The Houston chapter of the LCR has its monthly meeting this Wednesday, 4/11, at Theo’s Restaurant in Montrose. Let’s go together! I’ll buy your meal (the chicken soup is out of this world good) and I’ll protect you from anyone that tries to trap you into their ‘lifestyle’. Deal?
The Republican Party of Texas is not a church
Like I said, one of these two observations is important to me. This one. Those of us in Harris County have fought this for years, this combining of religion and politics. Speaker after speaker on Saturday referenced God and their belief that homosexuality is wrong and that they must stand up and fight for God, as if He cannot fight for Himself.
One female in particular expressed her love for ‘them’ and then proceeded to say pretty much what Tanya said above, that her children must be protected from ‘them’. Go to the 1:12:35 mark if you wish to view her remarks – her name was hard to discern but she stated that she was a proxy for SD23. I’ll condense her remarks to ‘we are gonna love ‘them’ but we don’t want to see ‘them’.
As I listened to that woman’s version of love, I was reminded of a song we sang in our youth group at church. It included this line “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love”. Frankly, I don’t see a lot of love on display by Republicans quoting their bibles these days. Do you think that Harris County’s own Terry Lowry was displaying love in this clip?
That seems more like fear than love to me. And my observation through the years is that this combining of religion and politics has certainly helped the Republican Party but it has been devastating for the Church. Church leaders now accept every sort of immoral behavior known to mankind so that they can have access to the halls of power. Well, every type except the big one that really, really bothers them, which is same sex relationships.
It’s telling that RPT Chair James Dickey stated during the discussion that because the party is a private entity, they can refuse to do business with anyone, anytime, for any reason. And that is true, as per Gov. Greg Abbott’s opinion on the subject when he was on the Texas Supreme Court. You know, the guy now asking for unity so that he can be reelected to do more of the same nothing he’s done the past four years?
It makes you wonder, what group is Mr. Dickey and team going to exclude next?
Statement from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas:
Today the executive committee of the Republican Party of Texas had an opportunity to reach out to minorities and show they were serious about growing party membership. When offered this opportunity, the members of the executive committee responded with a resounding “no.“
The Republican liberty caucus of Texas is saddened by today’s vote of the executive committee not to offer a booth at the state Republican convention to the Log Cabin Republicans, singling them out as the one group of Republicans who will not be allowed to be represented at the convention. For a party that had a gay national chairman just a few years ago this is a step in the wrong direction.
Every two years when the convention meets the platform is substantially revised and updated. Traditionally, party members have participated in this process and lobbied for positions that they think should be changed to reflect the changing interests a party. One of the best ways to get your group’s message out to the membership is through a booth on the convention floor. Businesses, union groups, political action committees and issue oriented activist groups – many of which hold positions counter to the party platform – will all be represented, but this one group made up entirely of grassroots Republicans will not have a voice at the convention, solely because they have one position which is not in keeping with a plank of a platform which was added less than a decade ago.
The Republican Party of Texas seems to have forgotten Ronald Reagan’s maxim that “the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.”
“It saddens me the RPT continues down the road of exclusionary policies while fully supporting elected Republican officials who vote against our platform planks on a regular basis,” said Jeff LeBlanc Chairman of the Texas RLC. “The free exchange of ideas is a good thing. A convention is the place for that. As one speaker put it today, at this rate we will eventually run out of people to exclude. This notion of safe spaces, once reserved for liberals, creeping into the RPT is frightening and flies in the face of individual liberty.”
The Republican Liberty Caucus will continue to work with the Log Cabin Republicans just as we work with any group within the Republican Party that advocates for our candidates and our core principles. We will do what we can, as we have in the past, to see that their concerns are raised at the convention and that their members are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve but are often denied within the party.