- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The opt-in survey by the dating app Hornet was unscientific, yet its finding that 45% of gay men in the U.S. plan to support President Trump has spurred double-takes and furious debate over whether the left-skewing LGBTQ electorate may be taking a Trumpian turn.

Brandon Straka, founder of WalkAway and an openly gay Trump supporter, said he was leery of the 45% figure in the Hornet survey, which drew responses from 1,200 gay men, but predicted that Mr. Trump would make inroads with LGBTQ voters.

“In my gut, I don’t believe 45%, but I do believe it is indicative of a larger trend that we’re going to see on Nov. 3,” said Mr. Straka, who spoke at the Republican National Convention. “Will it be 45%? I don’t think so, but I think we’re going to see movement.”

The liberal LGBTQ group GLAAD fired back last week with its own poll showing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden leading by 80% to 18% among registered gay male voters, and 74% to 17% among LGBTQ voters, who include lesbian, bisexual and transgender voters.

“In contradiction to unscientific polling released by another entity, this survey shows Biden holding a substantial lead among LGBTQ voters of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including those who identify as gay men,” said Pathfinder Research, which conducted the Oct. 1 poll for GLAAD.



That 17% is still more than Mr. Trump picked up in 2016 with LGBTQ voters, who made up an estimated 6% of the electorate in 2018, according to GLAAD.

“The LGBT community, they are incredible. You should see how they’ve come out in full force for my father every single day,” first son Eric Trump said last week on “Fox & Friends,” prompting GLAAD’s Sarah Kate Ellis to tweet back that his father’s “record on LGBTQ issues is shameful and abysmal.”

Mr. Trump is seeking to improve on the 14% LGBTQ share he received in 2016 against Democrat Hillary Clinton, boosted by the rising profile of gay conservatives, an about-face by the Log Cabin Republicans and the outreach of his own Trump Pride coalition.

Trump Pride even has its own version of the Make America Great Again ball cap. Instead of red, it’s white with rainbow lettering.

Leading the charge is former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, co-chair of Trump Pride, who has infuriated liberal LGBTQ groups with his insistence that Mr. Trump is “the most pro-gay president in American history.”

Mr. Grenell often points out that he became in February the highest-ranking openly gay federal official in U.S. history when Mr. Trump appointed him as acting director of national intelligence, a Cabinet-level position.

“The fact that I’m gay didn’t even faze Donald Trump,” Mr. Grenell said in a four-minute Log Cabin video. “Joe Biden certainly didn’t congratulate the appointment or even acknowledge it, but his silence was deafening.”

He contrasted the president’s LGBTQ record against that of Mr. Biden, noting that Mr. Trump was the first president to support same-sex marriage from the moment he was elected. Mr. Biden reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage and support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I know firsthand that President Trump is the strongest ally that gay Americans have ever had in the White House,” Mr. Grenell said.

Liberal gay rights groups argue that Mr. Biden should not be held to the same standard because he was elected to the Senate in 1972, before the push for same-sex marriage began, and dispute Mr. Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ group, has staunchly opposed Mr. Trump, citing his transgender military ban, his move to add religious exemptions to the Obama administration’s anti-discrimination executive order and his conservative court picks.

“Since the moment Donald Trump and Mike Pence walked into the White House, they have attacked the progress we have made toward full equality for the LGBTQ community and undermined the rights of countless Americans,” the Human Rights Campaign said on its “Trump’s Timeline of Hate” website.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David declared in a 2019 interview on Hill TV that Mr. Trump was “the worst president on LGBTQ issues ever.” His remark prompted bemused speculation from conservatives on the gay rights records of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Mr. Grenell cited the president’s fight against regimes that criminalize homosexuality and exit from the Iran nuclear deal as examples of his opposition to “homophobic and barbaric terrorist organization Hezbollah and the Iranian regime that supports them.”

The Trump administration also has made ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic a priority, and at least two of the president’s judicial nominees are openly gay.

After declining to endorse Mr. Trump in 2016, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest gay Republican group, gave him its endorsement last year, prompting the resignation of its president and several board members.

Elliot Imse, spokesperson for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, accused Mr. Trump’s team of “attempting to hide his anti-LGBTQ — and especially anti-trans — record as president.”

“He opposes our most basic protections. He appoints a Cabinet full of anti-LGBTQ activists and allows them to dismantle pro-LGBTQ policies throughout the administration,” Mr. Imse said in an email. “He tries to ban trans people from serving openly in the military. His minions can go out all day claiming he is not anti-LGBTQ, but the vast majority of our community has complete clarity on where he stands on equality for LGBTQ people.”

If any segment of the LGBTQ voting bloc is likely to swing for Mr. Trump, it’s gay men, said Mr. Straka. He said others in the movement have labeled gay men as “privileged.”

“I think gay men are saying, enough,” Mr. Straka said. “And I think they’re finding it preferable to jump ship and go to the other side than stick around in a community where we’re now being bullied from within. And we’re not really experiencing that bullying from the outside anymore.”

Mr. Imse acknowledged that “white men are the only reason Trump has a chance at reelection and among the LGBTQ community white gay men may be slightly more likely to vote for Trump.”

“But the level of support among gay men claimed in this [Hornet] poll is ridiculous based on every other piece of data we have,” he said.

In Mr. Trump’s four years in office, the conservative movement has become more visibly gay-friendly. At least two openly gay activists, Mr. Straka and Tammy Bruce, are slated to speak at CPAC 2021. The conservative Steamboat Institute featured Turning Point USA’s Rob Smith at its August conference.

They and other LGBTQ conservatives, including Guy Benson and Deroy Murdock, are featured regularly on Fox News and Fox Nation. Mr. Straka said he spoke last year at 47 Republican and right-tilting events — and those were just the invitations he accepted.

“Even with the peer pressure of being a gay person and the expectation of hating Republicans, hating Trump, people still at the end of the day see what’s going on with the cognitive dissonance,” said Mr. Straka. “If we’re so hated by the Republican Party, why does the Republican Party love me so much? Why does Trump love me?”

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