Progressive gay MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow slammed the Log Cabin Republicans on her show Wednesday night for endorsing Mike Fitzpatrick, the Republican who defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy, Democratic hero of the congressional effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Maddow had just interviewed Murphy, fresh from his success in leading passage of the DADT repeal in the US House of Representatives. She was clearly angry and suggested that Log Cabin’s endorsement hurt the LGBT movement for equality.
I immediately called LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper for a response, knowing that LCR has worked hard to lobby Republicans on DADT repeal, and other LGBT equality issues. Cooper assumed the reins of the partisan organization (the counter-part to the National Stonewall Democrats), seven months ago and helped secure the 15 GOP votes in the House for the DADT repeal vote yesterday.
In his email response, Cooper said, in part:
“Log Cabin Republicans recognize the role that Representative Patrick Murphy took on in efforts to end the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, however it is a mistake to argue, as some have, that his loss had anything to do with his work for repeal. Such claims are, in fact, dangerous to the equality movement because they send the false message that support for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal is politically dangerous.”
You decide. Here’s Rachel’s slam, followed by Cooper’s entire statement about why LCR supported Fitzpatrick.
R. Clarke Cooper’s response:
As we have discussed before, endorsement of pro-equality Republicans benefits all of us in the community regardless of party identity. Log Cabin Republicans are proud of all of our endorsed candidates from the 2010 election, including returning ally Representative-elect Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. The decision to endorse Representative Fitzpatrick was made after careful consideration. The Log Cabin Republicans national staff had several lengthy conversations with the candidate, weighed his track record of staunchly opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment, speaking out for employment nondiscrimination, and his past support for the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, and secured the promise of Fitzpatrick’s support for repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ following the release of the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Working Group study. In all assessments, this race was about the economy and an incumbent who was out of step with his District. We look forward to working with Representative -elect Fitzpatrick on a range of pro-equality issues, and as Republicans, we appreciate that he also stands for lower taxes, pro-growth economic policies, and common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our country today. Representative-elect Fitzpatrick earned Log Cabin’s endorsement, and we stand by it one hundred percent.
Log Cabin Republicans recognize the role that Representative Patrick Murphy took on in efforts to end the failed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, however it is a mistake to argue, as some have, that his loss had anything to do with his work for repeal. Such claims are, in fact, dangerous to the equality movement because they send the false message that support for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal is politically dangerous. The truth is Republicans won this year because of our positions on taxes, smaller government and Americans’ frustration with the out-of-touch Democratic leadership in Washington. No majority is ever permanent, and we knew the pendulum was going to swing hard in the GOP’s favor this year, which made it all the more important for Log Cabin to cultivate allies within a Republican Congress. When every other gay rights organization has wedded itself to the Democratic Party instead of working across party lines to build coalitions, pro-equality legislation is only hurt. Our efforts must be about at the end of the day securing support for passage of the legislation we agree upon.
Log Cabin Republicans endorsing pro-equality candidates like Representative-elect Mike Fitzpatrick, Senator Susan Collins and Representative-elect Richard Hanna are crucial for maintaining lines of communication with the party. At the end of the day, Log Cabin endorsed Representative-elect Mike Fitzpatrick because we are Republicans, and we believe his election helps to build a stronger, more inclusive GOP that is good for all Americans. Furthermore, his voice within the Republican Conference will strengthen bipartisan support for legislation, and will only benefit all gay and lesbian Americans.