Chapter leader of Log Cabin Republicans in PA confirms Trump endorsement

In January, Rob Jordan was tasked with reviving the Pennsylvania chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans and has been building that chapter, which is based in Philadelphia, ever since. At the end of a recent vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Jordan spoke with PGN about why LCR is endorsing President Trump for 2020 and why he voted for Trump in 2016 and will again next year.

Jordan wants people to know that LCR is open and welcoming to all. “We invite everyone to our events — Democrats and Independents, as well as Republicans.” Jordan leans heavily Libertarian, but said, “Right now, I see the Republican Party as the party of freedom and the Democrat Party as the party of old, Establishment ideas.”

Jordan wasn’t always a Republican. He broke with the Democratic Party in 2008, devastated over Hillary Clinton’s loss in the primary to Barack Obama, when Clinton won the popular vote by more than 300,000 votes but lost the delegate count, largely due to superdelegates, he said.

“I was strong for Hillary in 2008,” said Jordan. “I campaigned for her in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, traveling on my own dime. I gave her the maximum. I was all in for Hillary.”

Jordan said he was “concerned about how all of that went down. And I couldn’t accept it. There was this idea that the gay community had to fall in line, and I realized that in my heart and in my mind I was not a fall-in-line person.”

It wasn’t a minor issue for Jordan, and he didn’t leave the Democratic Party easily or even, at first, willingly. “I went to [former Philadelphia congressman] Bob Brady in person and I asked him why the shift to Obama from Hillary,” Jordan said. “I was even vacationing in Ogunquit, Maine, and I saw Barney Frank, and I talked to him about it, and he basically said ‘What can we do?’”

That was, Jordan said, “The beginning of my recognizing that I wasn’t all in for the Democrats or for the claim that ‘gay people are Democrats.’”

It marked the beginning of Jordan’s search for something different.

The populism that swept 2016 in the U.S. and elsewhere caught Jordan up, and it was Trump he chose.

“I felt that Hillary was the most qualified in 2008 and the smartest,” Jordan noted. “But in the years since, I discovered she’s not the Independent candidate I thought she was, but much more Establishment than she was in 2008.”

Jordan will vote for Trump in 2020 because, “I believe we need someone transformative and not of the D.C. swamp…who will shake things up and change the system that isn’t working for anyone.”

“We have to change the whole paradigm,” said Jordan and pointed to Philadelphia’s one-party system as an example of why bipartisanship and new ideas are essential. “We have to stop focusing on ‘identity politics’ and start focusing on inclusion,” he said.

Jordan doesn’t see either Trump or the Republican Party as anti-LGBTQ. “I have a large Libertarian bent,” he admits. “We have too many regulations, and I am all for reducing being boxed in. I want to see people rise on merit, not ‘identity politics.’”

Jordan is not oblivious to Trump’s actions. But the only part of Trump’s agenda with regard to LGBTQ issues that makes him queasy is the president’s ban on trans people in the military. 

“I do look at everything President Trump says and does and the only thing that he does and says that concerns me is the transgender ban — but I get where it’s coming from.”

Jordan chose his language carefully as he explained he believes that Trump’s advisors have concerns that people going through transition won’t be able to focus on the battlefield because they will be distracted by the process of transition.

Jordan said he doesn’t think Trump is transphobic, “I don’t think what he’s saying is transphobic but that he’s saying you need your strongest people in a military capacity — that it has to be 100 percent. And that someone in the midst of transition is going through a lot — it’s a hard thing to go through and very stressful.”

But Jordan was unequivocal when he said, “I fully support trans people serving in the military.” He also noted that the trans members of LCR “tend to be the most conservative,” but all the LCR people “support America’s trans troops.”

Jordan’s Libertarian bent overrides any concerns about religious freedom bills being used to discriminate against gay people. Businesses should be able to choose their customers, he said. 

But Jordan is not as all-in for Vice President Mike Pence as he is for Trump and noted that Pence “doesn’t have the transformative energy” of Trump. He likes former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as a replacement for Pence on the 2020 ticket, arguing that she would, as a dynamic figure, energize the GOP base.

“Mike Pence is very knowledgeable,” Jordan said. “He was a convert from Roman Catholicism to Evangelicalism, and he does toe that line.” But Jordan is equally displeased by Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg’s constant references to Christianity and the Bible in his public appearances.

“At first I really liked him,” Jordan said of Buttigieg adding that several members of LCR bought Buttigieg T-shirts early on. Jordan said he likes Buttigieg’s youth and some of his ideas but balks at Buttigieg’s strong religious language. “He’s using religion as a wedge issue against other candidates — Democrats and Republicans. He is using it against other candidates on both sides, and I think using his Christian beliefs against anyone is just not what we want in any candidate.”

The Democrats from the current race that Jordan likes are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — often mentioned as a possible VP choice for Bernie Sanders — and author Marianne Williamson.

Jordan’s focus while building LCR in Philadelphia — the chapter has tripled its membership in recent months — is to broaden the view of the Republican Party for people who have a negative view. He thinks Trump is “making way for gay meritocracy” and pointed to Richard Grenell, the current U.S Ambassador to Germany and the highest placed openly gay official in U.S. history, as exemplifying both Trump’s commitment to LGBTQ people and a gay American — and Republican — face in international politics.

Jordan pointed to Trump’s commitment to HIV/AIDS funding and to the GOP housing nondiscrimination bill as other examples of support for LGBTQ people. As for the Equality Act, Jordan is still considering whether that is a necessity or if it replicates existing protections.

Building LCR for the 2020 race is important to Jordan, and he continuously reaffirmed the welcoming stance of the local chapter. Inclusion is a word he used as often as he did transformative and said many would be surprised that the newest members of LCR are college students who “feel their conservative voices can’t be heard on their campuses.” He said they want to have a “safe space” to express their ideas and to get support for running for office in the future.

Jordan said, “There are a lot of tropes out there — that we’re racist or Russian plants, but we don’t fit any of them. We’re LGBTQ Republicans, and we are an open and inclusive group that anyone can join.”

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Victoria A. Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, DAME, The Advocate, Bay Area Reporter and Curve among other publications. She was among the OUT 100 and is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the Lambda Award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Ordinary Mayhem: A Novel, and the award-winning From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth and Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life.