I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the organization for LGBTQ Republicans and their straight GOP allies.
The group has been around since the 1970s when it was formed to fight the Briggs Initiative in California, which would have barred gay men and lesbians from being teachers.
That referendum was defeated by the voters, thanks in large part to the fact that Republican then-Governor Ronald Reagan came out publicly against it.
It is thought that LCR did much work behind the scenes to rally opposition to Briggs among Republicans. It had to be behind the scenes because, at the time, public support for homosexuality was thought to be risky even for Democrats. For Republicans it was almost unheard of.
After the Briggs defeat, I think even a lot of LGBTQ Democrats had high hopes for LCR, which pushed the notion of being “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.”
At that time there were far greater numbers of what one might call “reasonable Republicans” who thought that the loonies of the religious Right, including former Miss America Anita Bryant, were embarrassments who were pulling the GOP away from its primary purpose of making sure corporations had as much power as was politically possible,
Of course, things did not turn out as hoped for, at least in terms of the people who ran LCR in the late ’80s and early ’90s when I first started writing about them in Boston. Back then, LCR dreamed of pulling the GOP to the center on social issues. By all means, be as right-wing as you want to be on corporatism. But, at the very least, don’t waste valuable party time on the culture wars.
I’ve been thinking about all of this because a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the GOP gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts, where a pro-Trump election denier was running against a more traditional pro-business Republican.
If there is any state in the union where Republicans could feel free to throw off the shackles of Trumpism and elect sane Republicans, it would be Massachusetts.
Everyone who thought that was wrong. Even in Massachusetts, Republican voters chose Geoff Diehl, the crazy Trump candidate.
In one sense, it is good because, while the statewide electorate in the Bay State will elect Republicans to the governorship — Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, Charlie Baker — they are not likely to choose a Trump crazy over Democrat Maura Healey.
In another sense, it is a very bad sign because in Massachusetts, arguably the home of the “reasonable” Republican, political moderation is on life support.