Gay Republican group endorses candidate who supports anti-LGBT ‘freedom to discriminate’ law

A gay Republican group has thrown its support behind a candidate who supports ‘freedom to discriminate’ legislation.

The Log Cabin Republicans group claims to advocate for the acceptance of gay people within the Republican Party – though critics question its track record, given the party’s lack of progress on LGBT rights.

The Georgia branch this week threw its support behind Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for Governor of Georgia in November’s Gubernatorial election.

The group said: “We offer him our full endorsement and look forward to working hard to help him win in November against radical liberal Stacey Abrams.”

Brian Kemp addresses the audience during an election watch party on July 24, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty)

The decision has been strongly criticised because Kemp continues to support ‘freedom to discriminate’ laws that would actively permit faith-based discrimination against LGBT people.

Kemp has explicitly signed a pledge vowing to sign such a state-level law, saying: “If elected Governor, I will actively support the Legislature in its efforts to pass an uncompromised, state-level [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] that mirrors the federal RFRA. I will sign such a bill if it passes, protecting First Amendment rights, particularly the Free Exercise of Religion.”

The proposed law mirrors one signed by Vice President Mike Pence when he was Governor of Indiana in 2015, plunging the state into chaos as it faced boycotts over the decision to permit anti-LGBT discrimination.

Kemp confirmed this week to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “My position on RFRA is not going to change. I’m not going to change.

“It’s the commonsense thing to do, and I will do that as governor. And I’ll be glad to sit down with any business entity in the state and talk them through that.”

Brian Kemp addresses the audience during an election watch party on July 24, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. (Jessica McGowan/Getty)

It is far from the first time the Log Cabin Republicans have stood accused of helping an anti-LGBT candidate get to power.

The national group lobbied heavily in favour of Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her tight confirmation battle despite her strong links to anti-LGBT groups via her family foundation.

The Log Cabin Republicans led an operation to convince moderate GOP Senators to back DeVos, and she was eventually confirmed by the Senate on a 50-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence using his powers to break the tie in her favour.

Within months of helping to secure her confirmation, the group were protesting DeVos over her anti-LGBT actions, when she revoked discrimination protections for transgender kids put in place under Obama.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Joe Raedle/Getty)

In a letter to DeVos the Log Cabin Republicans expressed “deep concerns” with DeVos’ agreement to rescind the protections, urging her to act to minimise harm to trans kids and support “their ability to receive an education”.

She revoked the protections anyway.

While the Obama administration had taken a proactive interpretation of civil rights laws to tackle homophobic and transphobic discrimination, DeVos said in March 2018 that she would not do so unless directed to by Congress.

She said: “We have continued to protect the rights of students as defined under Title IX, we have continued to do so, and consider those matters brought through the Office for Civil Rights.

“We will continue to do so until either the Supreme Court or Congress clarifies the law with regards to access to bathrooms, athletic locker rooms and athletic teams.

“That is not an area where law has been clarified. This department is not going to make law, we are going to enforce laws that we are given to do.”