Identity voting and LGBT Republicans

Vanessa Vitiello at Slate’s Outward blog brings up an issue that is sure to be a hot one in the next couple of election cycles: supporting candidates based on a shared identity vs. alignment on issues. (h/t to Dan Savage, who has some strong feelings on the subject):

To be sure, the Republican Party has lagged far behind the Democrats on LGBT issues, as well as other issues of diversity and equality. In the past, this has resulted in some pretty ugly attacks against gay Republicans from prominent gay activists on the left. But you can’t have a healthy democracy without a minimum of two strong, functional political parties. In a country as diverse as ours, this means that both major parties need a variety of voices, and both of them need to appeal to more than just a single, ever-narrowing constituency. If the Republican Party continues to decline in relevancy, we’ll all suffer in the long term if we’re forced to default to a Democratic Party that doesn’t have to work at being better than the alternative.

To be fair, there’s a lot of daylight between full-throated support for Republican candidates who happen to be LGBT and “dismiss[ing] them out of hand as hypocrites and traitors to LGBT causes,” as Vitiello mentions in the closing of her post. LGBT voters (and those from many other groups) who choose to be Republicans despite what seems like a conflict with their self-interest will cause a lot of consternation and debate. But there will also be a lot of contentious discussion about identity politics as we gear up for a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy, one that doesn’t excite a lot of progressives who are turned off by Clinton’s moderate history while simultaneously excited about the idea of finally seeing a woman in the White House.

I feel confident that I will always lean toward an intersectional view and support candidates that will represent the interests of many groups and adhere closest to the values important to me first and foremost, but I look forward to some spirited debate.


Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

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