- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2016

CLEVELAND — The Republican Party under Donald Trump took strides toward greater acceptance of gay Americans on Thursday, welcoming a gay businessman to the stage and recognizing the community’s suffering at the hands of an Islamic State-inspired shooter in Florida weeks ago.

“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” Mr. Trump said, drawing a strong ovation from the crowd.

He then said he was proud of his party for reacting so warmly.

The fact that he made that recognition signals just how tricky gay rights has been for Republicans.

Mr. Trump twice used the term LGBTQ — which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and and queer, or questioning. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, did not broach that term.

When Peter Theil took the stage earlier, the gay Republican entrepreneur was met with a smattering of boos and jeers — though they were quickly silenced.

Mr. Thiel proclaimed his sexual orientation, then called for voters to get beyond “fake culture wars.”

“When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom,” he said. “This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?”

Many in the crowd gave him a standing ovation, and chants of “U-S-A” came from the rafters.

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