I am a young conservative queer. The GOP lied to me.

I knew I was conservative long before I knew I was queer. Against the natural flow, I’ve always wanted to color outside the box. I had little respect for authority and a deep desire to challenge mainstream thought and opinion. As a child of the Obama era, it was clear to me, even as a child, that there was an “approved” way of thinking — one that was largely held by the Democratic Party and the mainstream media.

Because of this, I knew the Democratic Party was not for me when I was 12.

Even as a child, I believed in relentless freedom, American exceptionalism, and our country’s promise. That’s what drew me to the Republican Party. Growing up in New Hampshire, I was surrounded by politics, and our GOP leaders were traditionally moderate Republicans who cared little about issues of social and cultural warfare, despite the temptations of a rabid activist base.

When I was 18, I interned for New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte on Capitol Hill during her penultimate year in office, as she began to position herself as a moderate voice on issues such as LGBTQ rights. In 2014, the message seemed pretty clear: same-sex marriage is a dead issue and Republicans are moving on.

Perfect.

Later, I studied at Mount Holyoke, a women’s college with a predominantly queer and gay population. I didn’t consider myself queer at the time, probably because of my roots as a contrarian and constant opponent of the collective. In fact, attending Mount Holyoke inspired me to become even more conservativeand I myopically linked homosexuality exclusively to leftism.

But just a few months into my freshman year, I was thrown into the political arena. A state representative seat had opened up in my hometown, and local GOP activists were encouraging me to run. I agreed and ran as a “freedom” Republican (something quite unique to New Hampshire), promoting limited government, school choice, and opposing tax increases. To the surprise of many (including myself), I won, instantly becoming one of the youngest elected officials in the country at 19.

I became more and more involved in the GOP — as a state delegate, working on campaigns, and attending endless rubber chicken dinners. I allowed the GOP to become a big part of my personal identity.

And then at 20, as an elected Republican, I realized that I was definitely not straight.

But I didn’t feel like my association with my party would conflict with my sexual identity. In fact, as I continued to expand my network of queer people, I discovered that many shared many of my core political values. I found myself working to convince these people that they should be open to voting Republican.

Of course, most declined, given the GOP’s fairly recent history of making opposition to same-sex marriage a campaign issue. But I tried to assure skeptics that in June 2015 the Supreme Court had finally settled the issue of same-sex marriage, making it the law of the land.

“What has happened over the past decade? Is it no longer politically expedient to be pro-equality?”

I became more assured that Republicans embraced same-sex marriage in 2016 when Donald Trump waved a pride flag on the campaign trail. It was something no GOP presidential candidate had done before… ever. Whatever you thought of Trump, it was clearly a sign that Republicans were heading in the right direction. And then, of course, there was gay tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s rousing speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, where he not only endorsed Trump, but said, “I’m proud to be gay.” , to enthusiastic applause.

And in 2020, that support seemed to be even stronger during President Trump’s re-election campaign. There was a palpable energy behind Log Cabin Republicans and other conservative LGBTQ groups. Heck, even Caitlyn Jenner became a Fox News contributor, being one of the first transgender people to appear as a commentator on Fox. already. Gay voices like Tammy Bruce, Dave Rubin and Rob Smith were becoming increasingly popular in the conservative movement.

These pundits argued in favor of the Republican Party and a second term for President Trump. Now, not even two years later, the right has unleashed an all-out anti-gay panic that seriously threatens marriage equality.

Conservatives hurl insults at innocent gay people online. The majority of House Republicans voted against codifying same-sex marriage at the federal level. Proponents of marriage equality have been accused by Republican candidates of “sexualizing kindergarteners” and being “groomers”.

What has happened over the past decade? Is it no longer politically expedient to be pro-equality?

When I ask my more conservative colleagues about this, they cite examples of gender theory being taught in schools. They point to videos from accounts like @LibsOfTikTok and promote the false narrative that LGBTQ people are out to get their kids back. Even admitting that there may be legitimate concerns about some of the more extreme examples, it’s clear that I was wrong to believe that LGBTQ equality was a “dead issue.”

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court showed, by overturning Roe vs. Wadethat there is no precedent that they will not overturn.

And yet, even now, gay conservative political pundits like Dave Rubin say there is no real divide between conservatives and gays. I can’t help but laugh about it.

Then presidential candidate Donald Trump holding an LGBT rainbow flag given to him by a supporter at a 2016 campaign rally in Colorado.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Not only have members of the far-right radical fringe called for Rubin’s execution when he announced that he and her husband were expecting, but more mainstream conservative political and media figures like Allie Beth Stuckey, Jenna Ellisthe National exam and The American Conservative also denounced the couple’s decision to have a baby via surrogate.

And just recently, Conservative Daily Wire host Michael Knowles said: “If Pete Buttigieg and Chasten can be married, then marriage has no practical meaning.”

What year are we living in? Weren’t those same conservatives celebrating gay Trump voters 15 minutes ago?

And how are Log Cabin Republicans fending off this drastic turn? They are not. Instead, they cheer on the 47 Republicans who have backed marriage equality, failing to acknowledge that a quarter of the Republican caucus is not a victory.

I am 26 years old, but I have already seen a lot of things while working in politics. I still believe the right has the majority of the correct ideas, but radical conservatives are jeopardizing all of these issues by pushing bigotry and reigniting a culture war that conservatives like me were sure was a thing of the past.

Senate Republicans have an opportunity to right the wrongs of the majority of House Republicans. They have the opportunity to show that Republicans stand up for liberty and the family. And we only need 10 of them to join the Democrats and pass the Respect for Marriage Act.

It’s time for the GOP to cast aside the prejudices of the past, tame its extremist elements, and stand up for freedom for all Americans, regardless of gender identity.

This is a watershed moment and a defining issue for the party. If Republican senators fail to seize the opportunity, the conservative movement will have sold its soul – support for individual rights – to appease a retrograde minority on its base.

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