Republican Party

The Pink Elephant in the Room: Eyes on Gay Republican Candidates

Is the political viability of gay GOP candidates another sign of libertarian influence on the party?


The existence of gay Republicans is hardly a new phenomenon. The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay men and women within the party, was founded back in 1977 in California. But every so often, the existence of gay conservatives gets media attention, particularly during election cycles.

Carl DeMaio
Carl DeMaio

In more recent years, gay conservatives have been getting more attention as the Republican Party struggles with its identity. American opinion has shifted significantly to support top issues among gays and lesbians, particularly in support of marriage recognition. Support for gay marriage among evangelical Christians has doubled over the past decade, according to one poll. The Republican Party has declared the primacy of heterosexual marriage even in its most recent presidential platform, but it's hard to visualize how the Republican Party will be able to sustain any position that can remotely be called anti-gay moving forward. This ambiguity about what the Republican Party might look like five years from now is not just about the relationship between the party and religious conservatives.  The party is fractured with debate between Tea Party activists and the establishment, between defense hawks and non-interventionists, between the business interests who have fixed the game to financially benefit themselves and those who want it to stop, and in other major policy issues as well.

So in this context, it makes sense that the three gay Republicans running for Congress are drawing significant media attention across the country. The three are Carl DeMaio, challenging Democrat Scott Peters to represent California's 52nd District in San Diego; Richard Tisei, challenging Democrat John Tierney again to represent Massachusetts' 6th District; and Dan Innis, challenging Democrat Carol Shea-Porter to represent New Hampshire's 1st District. (Full disclosure: DeMaio is an independent contractor for the Reason Foundation research division's pension reform project.)

Richard Tisei
Richard Tisei

The three candidates have been getting attention from The Hill, Al Jazeera, the Associated Press, and The New York Times, among other news outlets. If any of them win in the fall, they'll be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. Retired Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona came out of the closet as gay while he was serving office, not prior to his election.

Whether DeMaio, Tisei, and Innis are embraced by Republican voters could send a stronger signal to the party that it's time to kick its anti-gay planks out of the party platform. DeMaio came in second in California's top-two primary system earlier this year and will face Peters in November. Tisei and Innis both have primaries in September. Tisei would have actually been the first openly gay Republican congressman elected in 2012, but he just barely lost to Tierney. His race was one of the few where a Libertarian Party candidate may have affected the outcome.

Dan Innis
Dan Innis

Although none of the three have made gay issues part of their campaign, they're not hiding their sexual orientations. All three make mention of or have been photographed with their partners or mention their relationships in their campaign biographies.

Innis says the media appears to be more interested in his sexual orientation and opinions on gay marriage than the voters he's encountered.

"Here in New Hampshire not that many people pay attention to it," he says. "I've been asked about it maybe two or three times. Here, it's settled law." Same-sex marriage recognition came to New Hampshire in 2010. "We have our 'live free or die' mentality. … I think the party has come to a place where it's much more accepting of us now and with us running for office."

DeMaio hopes that eventually the sexual orientation will become a non-issue for the party and that candidates will be judged on their positions and effectiveness.

"On election night, I said this should send a national message that the Republican Party should return to its traditional roots: Freedom in all aspects, lower taxes and regulation," he said. "If you're willing to trust people to spend their own money, are you willing to trust people to live their lives?"

DeMaio, Innis, and Tisei all have components of their platforms that may be of interest to libertarians. DeMaio has been fighting for public sector employee pension reform and pushing for privatization and government program efficiency. Innis has a section on his campaign site devoted to privacy issues, calling for more restraints on the National Security Agency and ending "backdoor" surveillance, making him a potential ally of libertarian Republicans like Justin Amash of Michigan. Tisei was not available for an interview, but Garrett Quinn singled Tisei out in Reason magazine's November 2012 issue as a "libertarianish" candidate for opposing tax increases, supporting medical marijuana, and opposing parts of the PATRIOT Act.  

Do Innis and DeMaio see the Republican Party moving in a more libertarian direction? Innis thinks it could be: "Let me put it this way—I'm a candidate that supports small government, low taxes, low regulation, and keeping the government out of my daily life. I think here in New Hampshire the Republican Party is turning in that direction."

DeMaio is more direct: "I think American people have grown libertarian. And the party has been flirting with it, and it's time the flirtation blossomed into a full romance."

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  1. In more recent years, gay conservatives have been getting more attention as the Republican Party struggles with its identity.

    The big tent party has to highlight them just like it makes use of its minority members. Gay conservative candidates attract moderates who like fiscal restraint and social tolerance, and are palatable to some Christian voters because the candidates don’t typically need or want to focus on their orientation for votes.

    1. Um, Fist, you’re normally pretty perceptive, but this is not the GOP trotting out their token homos so much as the ever-sensationalist media seizing on what they see as the inherent hypocrisy of non-progressive gays.

      1. There is much truth in this^. Many lgbt and allies I know personally are confused and sometimes confrontational when I come out to them as a libertarian.

        1. LGBTQWTFOMGs are confused because the overwhelming majority suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.

          First they got homosexuality removed fom the DSM… but then it came to light that they’re still identifiable as insane by Borderline Personality Disorder… Oh, guess what’s being disappeared from the next DSM… BPD.. the most destructive (both socially and personally) mental illness outside of paranoid schizophrenia.

          1. So I take it you are a leading researcher in the field of lgbt psychiatry? Perhaps you have access to data which support the bullshit you spouted?

            1. You’re implying that I lack the ability to RrEAD???

              Stop with the leftist non-debate tactic “oh, your input doesn’t count because I deem you unqualigfied to participate in the conversation.” It’s unbecoming. Either answer my argument, or shut up.

              An argument is valid or invalid based on its truthfulness, NOT on the basis of who presents it.

              Ad hominem fallacy — learn it.

        2. A friend of mine is a Republican in Berkeley (one of two, hah!). He tells this story that he was a Republican fund raiser when he noticed everyone was giving the cold shoulder to a guy wearing a Log Cabin button. My friend went over to apologize for their rude behavior.

          The guy replied, “Oh this is nothing. You should see the hate I get for wearing this same pin to a gay event.”

      2. Maybe I should have said, “The big tent party should highlight them just like it makes use of its minority members.”

  2. it’s hard to visualize how the Republican Party will be able to sustain any position that can remotely be called anti-gay moving forward.

    I think this has as much to do with the Republican party as it does to do with the shifting definition of ‘anti-gay’.

    1. What counts as anti-gay?

      I mean, we’ve already left mere tolerance behind, and moved onto forced association and special privileges as a protected class.

      Is opposing that anti-gay?

      1. It’s not so bad. Unlike how it is with other minorities, you can pretend you’re gay and get all those “special privileges” if you want.

        1. So as long as second-class citizens can “pass”, its all good?

          You sound like your fellow Democrat Bull Connor in drag.

          1. Yes straight people are now second-class citizens. You have to do a credible swish before you can vote. Jeeeesus fuck I can’t believe some opinions even exist.

          2. What rock have you been sleeping under for the last 40 years?

        2. Fortunately there will be a cure for homosexuality in the coming years.

        3. Eat a bag of dicks Tony.

      2. What counts as anti-gay?

        A campaign to rid NYC of gay bars?

        Who knew you’d elect a Republican to put a stop to it?

      3. I mean, we’ve already left mere tolerance behind, and moved onto forced association and special privileges as a protected class.

        Yes R. C. Dean (now posting as MegaloMonocle), because at any time within the past 50 years, you and those like you could have set down at the table and created a compromise to have prevented this. But you didn’t. You played the scorched-earth policy knowing that you’d have the weak, whiny sauce of victimhood when you inevitably lost.

        Enjoy that stewing in your own juices, RC Dean. Enjoy. [Pulls out grillmaster-sized pepper grinder and “seasons” RC Dean appropriately]

      4. Sorry. For me, this comment kinda steps into where I live.. As a bit of background; I’m trans, atheist and gay; in addition to a whole bunch of other useless labels.

        I have to ask. Is mere tolerance okay for you? Are you willing to go through your life knowing and having demonstrated to you sometimes daily, that you are alive simply because those around you are practicing their version of ‘tolerance’?

        Do you define ‘forced association’ as allowing ‘them/us’ to live in your society?

        “-special privileges as a protected class.” Oh, Holy Raptor Jesus!! Tell me where! I’ll move to wherever I can get my natural rights recognized; can’t even imagine, nor do I desire special privileges and being part of a protected class.

        What counts as anti-gay? Anti-lgbt? Reporting, commenting, legislating as if anyone is different than you.

        1. When will gays be accepting of mere tolerance. All I’ve seen is a constant demand for endorsement by heterosexuals, while at the same time, gays are absolutely INTOLERANT of heterosexuality.

          Stop being hypocritical wanna-be Nazis, and I’ll stop thinking of you as such.

          And yes… the Nazis WERE Homosexuals. DOCUMENTED Homosexuals. The SA and SS were almost entirely gay, as was Hitler himself) not to mention that the party started in a gay bar.

          1. Do you use the thin tinfoil, or do you go for the thicker stuff ?

            1. Wow.. open your eyes and observe the world, man.

              When party ideology and dogma conflicts with observable facts of how the world works, then it’s time to throw out the dogma and ideology, and adjust your politics accordingly.

              Or are you too immature to handle that?

              1. You are some piece of work.

                1. You’re either stupid, or ignorant. Which is it?

      5. Well, we have “forced association and special privileges as a protected class” for homophobic organizations, like the Catholic and Mormon churches.

        I’m all for free association and removing special privileges, but then let’s do it uniformly for everybody: remove tax exemptions and non-discrimination laws for religious organizations too. The free exercise clause should no more mean that I am obliged to put up with a Catholic than the equal protection clause means that you should be obliged to put up with a homosexual.

        1. Mark22, try not comparing apples and whales. It makes you look like an idiot.

    2. It is no longer enough to live and let live. You have to declare somethings to be fabulous or you are against it.

      1. It’s generally looked down upon by civilized people to disapprove of an entire minority group.

        1. Howevern disapproving of an entire majority group is looked up to by the really civilized people. “Check your white privilege”.

        2. Freedom allows me to look down on ANYONE for their behavior.

          Do you look down on bankrobbers?

          Why is that?

          And no, a man loving another man does not mean that we should allow them to openly and proudly have sex with each other. For one, open homosexuality rapidly brings about the destruction of society. How exactly will you enjoy freedom when the society collapses and is overtaken by barbarians (see: Imperial Rome, see also: Nazi Germany).

          1. When Imperial America lasts as long as the Roman one did with all its sexual deviancy, get back to me. And I realize gays are fabulous, but even we have a little trouble taking great powers down from inside gas chambers.

            1. The Roman Empire declined because the people in charge thought it was a good idea to sweeten their wine with lead acetate. Deviancy you say ? In the Roman Empire you could be married with children, and be a homosexual, and no one would care, because for a Roman reproduction, and sexual preference were separate issues.
              Keep preaching about history though. It just shows how ignorant you are.

              1. Also good job Godwining yourself.

                1. You can’t argue the point, so you resort to a cop-out… and then you didn’t even apply it correctly. Do you declare yourself the winner in every game while you’re still 10 points behind?

            2. There’s nothing fabulous about sticking your penis inside another man’s rectum.

              1. Speak for yourself.

                1. Ok, tony, why don’t you provide us with a list of people who have publicly stated that sticking your penis inside another man’s rectum is fabulous.

                  The “fabuloushness” is all a false front to cover up for how hideaous most of them feel inside. It’s not just Gays… it’s a common trait of most everyone who exhibits Borderline Personality Disorder.

            3. Actually, the Roman empire fell because the Republic and the meritocracy were brought down by people who bought popular political support using panem and circenses. It’s actually a pretty good analog to what’s happening in the US.

              Furthermore, although the Roman Republic had lots of problems, it was followed by the aptly named Dark Ages.

              1. And part of the appeal for popular political support was allowing gays to be all out in the open about their deviancy. Why? To harness the nearly boundless energy of busybody militant homsexuals for one’s own political benefit. Of course, there are paybacks…and those paybacks are part of whatlead to the destruction of Rome.

  3. Wait until the Democrats get a hold of these “Uncle Mary” traitors. The Democrats have been the only party fighting for gay rights and therefore deserve the votes and everlasting adoration of homosexuals from now until forever!

    1. “Uncle Mary”


      1. Although I’ll suggest “Uncle Dorothy”…

    2. The democrats aren’t fighting for gay rights. They’re fighting for oppression of anyone who doesn’t bend over and kiss the ass of every “queer” they meet.

      Gays don’t want acceptance.. they got that a long time ago. No, what they demand is that each and every one of use CELEBRATE their lifestyle of sticking their sexual organs into sewage.

      And that is utterly incompatible with *my* liberty — both free speech and free association.

    3. They already have. The local LGBT organization (sorry, not sure of its exact name) in San Diego refuses to endorse DeMaio even though he scores 100% on their issues checklist.

      1. Oh, and a Democrat California State senator tried to smear DeMaio with some story about jerking off in the men’s room. It was roundly denounced by other San Diego Dems, to their credit, but it has lived on in the hearts of liberals. I caught the smear on Daily Kos yesterday.

        Then there were the brochures of him in drag distributed in San Diego’s Black neighborhood.

        Oh yeah, they’ve started on it.

  4. I know two gay Republicans. One insists on staying registered with them despite the fact that he’s a liberal about everything. But he is one of those sort of middling intellects whose life goal is making a bunch of money and having a good title and then showing it off to everyone. So he probably secretly harbors low-tax beliefs and doesn’t talk about it around me. The other is older and smarter but harbors the delusion that the Republican party of today has some relationship with the more aristocratic version of the past, and snobbery is a big part of his persona (thinks the GI Bill was the worst thing ever).

    1. Are you mad because they’re out of your league?

      1. Do I sound mad? One is fat and the other is old. I am out of their league, much to the disappointment of at least the fat one.

        1. Perhaps perturbed is a better word to describe how you sound.

        2. Perhaps perturbed is a better word to describe how you sound.

        3. Eat a bag of dicks Tony.

          1. JPyrate, I think Tony would interpet that as an invitation to pleasure… the sick f*** that he is.

  5. I hear a monkey spanking itself…..Choney?

  6. Oh, good God, quit pushing the faggotocracy line all he time.

    The last faggotocracy the world had was Nazi Germany…and we all know how well that turned out. Other notable faggotocracy: Imperial Rome (as opposed to Romve before the emporors), and Greeks.

    What do they have in commmon? War, War, War and more war. Endless war until they were destroyed. And how were civil liberties under those systems? They ALL declined once the gays took over.

    Stop it. Faggotocracy is utterly incompatible with liberty.

    1. You can eat a bag of dicks to.

      1. Too bad you can’t rebut my statement because it’s the truth.

        Every time and place where you see rampant, open homosexuality, you also see hyper-masculanism (“women are for breeding only” atttitude) accompanied by hyper-militarism.

        Nowhere is there a better example right now than in the Muslim world, where boy-buggering is a practice so common it’s not even talked about (just as it was in Germany in the late 1800’s all the way through to and including the Nazi era).

  7. To the previously unseen conservative trolls here – Do you just lurk these boards waiting for Reason to post articles about gay people, so you can let everyone know how awful the homos are? Seems like you have a bit of a fixation, I wonder why that is …

    1. People will tend to comment more on issues they care about. Even if they are crazy.

    2. I’m not a conservative. I’ve been a registered Libertarian for 30 years.

      Now, having said that, I’m NOT going to support a policy which leads DIRECTLY to the abolition of nearly all the personal liberty that party stands for.

      Most gays were not “born that way”, it comes as a result of severe neglect and/or abuse, and/or sexual abuse.

      We have known for DECADES that abused children grow up to abuse children in the same manner by which they were abused. And this is why gays and pedophilia movments (like NAMBLA) are inextricably linked. Additionally, the extremy physical/psychological/sexual abuse which causes homosexuality ALSO causes full blown Borderline Personality Disorder. Read up on it. BPD’s are the most manipulative people, and tend to be absolute psychopaths when they think they can get away with it. They also tend to exhibit psychosis, and SEVERE projection.

      1. Standing up for the “rights” of homosexuals to perpetuate their emotional problems on the most vulnerable in society is an absolute wrong. We wouldn’t allow an adult to run through a playground swinging and axe under the banner of “freedom” and letting gays openly indulge their mental illness has severe casualties. The end result is what we saw in Germany (Germany was so overrun by gays in the late 1800’s that around Europe, homosexuality was called “The German Disease”… and was so common that in the 1890’s a general once showed up at a general staff meeting with the Kaiser in a pink tutu… just before he danced a feminine ballet…and then collapsed from a heart attack and died. And NONE of the other attendees at the meeting noted that this was unusual, other than that his dance was “very lovely.”

        Homosexuality is a cancer on any society which indulges it.

        1. You’re far more entertaining than the regulars. Do carry on.

          1. Perhaps because I actually know history and psychology.

        2. Wow, that might have come almost literally out of one of Hitler’s speeches. He had the same kind of obsession with homosexuality as you do. Please don’t try to pretend that your fascist drivel is “libertarian”.

          The libertarian view is clear: whatever vice you want to engage in privately, whether it be Christianity or homosexuality, is simply no business of the state.

          1. Mark22, you ignorant fuck, Hitler was a homosexual. There are eyewitnesses to him having gay sex in a barn in 1915 on the Western Front. He’s knowon to have been buggering Wagner’s grandson. When he joined th National Socialist Party, it was still MEETING IN A GAY BAR.

            Now, do you have anything intelligent to add to this conversation, or are you just going to trot out more historical revisionism.

            What part of “over 90% of the SA and SS were homosexuals” did you not understand the first time?

          2. Secondly, we’ve already seen how gays consider the rights of non-gays: NON-EXISTANT!

            Look at the case of the baker who didn’t want to bake a wedding cake for two gay men…so.. they ran to court to get a judge to ORDER the man to bake them a cake. Yeah, that’s not engaging in their vice privately — that’s DEMANDING that EVERYBODY play a supporting role in their vice — like it or not. That makes Stalinism look like freedom.

  8. Please explain why we should endorse policies which will, like clockwork, lead to a loss of not only the liberty which we currently want to restore, but also lead to the destruction of the remaining liberty that still exists?

    Ends don’t justify unsatisfactory means, but likewise, means don’t justify unsatisfactory ends.

  9. Only recently have I been able to shame my Republican friends/acquaintances into admitting that homosexuality is not the horrid sin of Satan that they just a decade ago would have happily said they were in broad public.

    Gay marriage…we’re not quite there yet. I can get a few of them to agree that government ought not to involve itself in marriage at all, but most of the rest still think big government is okay as long as it’s promoting the right things.

    I often find myself without lots of optimism for our future, and the amateur commies who vote Democrat are not the sole stimulus…

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