The Log Cabin Republicans, a political organization that advocates LGBT inclusion in the Republican Party, announced late last week that interim Executive Director Gregory Angelo will continue in the role permanently.
“I started going to Log Cabin meetings in 2008,” Angelo tells GA Voice. “At the time, the local chapter was in the midst of rebirth of sorts and I saw an organization that was doing great work that I believed in, but I thought could benefit from having someone with media expertise that was able to amplify the work the organization was doing on the state level.”
Angelo eventually became the chairman of the New York chapter of the organization and helped work toward New York’s marriage law, the only marriage equality bill that had ever passed under a Republican-controlled state legislature.
Thanks to his work in New York, Angelo was later offered the role of executive director for the Liberty Education Forum, a non-partisan think tank linked with Log Cabin. In late 2012, Angelo became the interim executive director of LCR after then-Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper stepped down.
“When Clarke Cooper had indicated that he was departing the organization, the board asked if I would be interested on an interim basis,” Angelo says. “That interim basis turned into a permanent position.”
After only two months as the group’s temporary leader, Angelo was named permanent executive director last week by the organization’s board of directors.
Angelo begin his professional career as a writer and editor for a variety of publications, including Wired, Genre Magazine and Out Magazine. But after a few years in the business, he began to transition to media and public relations. That transition, he says, helped prepare him for his future role as the leader of the LCR.
For Angelo and gay politicos like him, conservatism is an appealing political ideology. Lower taxes, less government intrusion and regulation, and strong national defense are usually how conservatives identify their beliefs.
But many Republicans, including an overwhelming majority of those elected to federal office, do not support LGBT equality measures. That’s something Angelo and the Log Cabin Republicans have been working to change.
“For me, it’s easy,” Angelo says on how he reconciles being a gay Republican. “I look at the Republican Party and what it stands for. Clearly I disagree with a number of issues the GOP takes, specifically same-sex marriage, but the bottom line is that I agree with most of what the party stands for.”
For 30 years, LCR has advocated inclusion in the Republican Party. The group has been accused of “selling out” and its members ostracized in the gay community for supporting a party that has rarely, if ever, supported them. But the political tides are changing as more voters become aware and supportive of gay issues, including Republican voters in states across the country.
“There are a lot of grey areas with Republicans. A lot of liberals are fond of seeing everything as cut and dry when it comes to gay issues. I don’t see it that way at all,” Angelo says.
He highlights former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and other prominent Republicans who were opposed to same-sex marriage rights but crossed party lines to support the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010.
“One of the things I’m excited about it looking at the sea change that we’re experiencing right now,” Angelo says. “More and more individuals on the federal and state level are coming out in support of legislation.”
Priorities moving forward
The greatest jewel of the gay rights crown continues to be marriage equality. Though nine states and the District of Columbia currently allow and recognize same-sex marriages, most of the country’s gay and lesbian couples continue to live in areas where they are not allowed to be married, including here in Georgia.
The Log Cabin Republicans and other gay rights groups hope to make marriage a reality for all of the country. And while the Supreme Court will hear arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s constitutional ban on marriage later this spring, Angelo is hesitant to make any predictions about the fate of marriage before the court.
“I’m not going to put any bets down right now as to how the court will rule,” he says. “The ideology of the court makes any vote a slim margin.”
Other LGBT priorities, including employment non-discrimination and making sure bi-national gay couples are included in immigration reform, are crucial to the Log Cabin’s agenda, Angelo says.
“We have a number of policies we have on the federal level that we’re looking to advance,” he says of LCR’s priorities moving forward. “They have been a part of our portfolio for years. I’m not stepping in and changing the focus so much as I am grabbing the baton and continuing the marathon toward things like the Respect for Marriage Act.”
The core mission of the Log Cabin will remain the same, Angelo says, even if marriage and other efforts to advance gay rights come to fruition during his time with the organization.
“We’re still going to be here for a while,” he says. “There is a lot of work to be done. There is a lot of work we can do, making the gay case for issues that are outside the normal portfolio of LGBT rights.”
Top photo: Gregory Angelo, the new executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans (courtesy photo)