The Republican Party is in an awkward position. The party’s platform strikes a decidedly anti-gay tone, but Republicans are throwing their lot behind two promising openly-gay candidates looking to win key House seats in 2014.
According to a report from Politico, the lines have been blurred even further with Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., lobbying to keep the party’s campaign groups from throwing any money at the gay candidates.
In 2014, Republicans are counting on Carl DeMaio, a former city councilman, to defeat incumbent Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Richard Tisei, a local realtor, to defeat embattled Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass. Tisei ran in 2012 and lost by 1.2 percentage points.
The push shows a major divide in the Republican Party between those who would like to focus on the GOP’s conservative social values, and those who recognize demographically, the path to victory requires Republicans to focus on promoting the party’s economic platform.
“Representative Forbes’ recent behavior is disappointing. This type of rhetoric is symptomatic of someone who does not understand the importance of being a team player,” the Republican group GOProud said in a statement. “Our Party cannot win elections by appealing to the lowest common denominator amongst the minority of American voters. This type of rhetoric embarrasses Republicans everywhere, and it is not helpful.”
While many in the GOP have begun to accept gay marriage as a states right issue, others in the party are racing to hold onto the GOP’s traditional marriage position.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, blazed a new trail this spring when he announced his support for gay marriage, but others have been slow to adopt that stance.
On the other hand, many in leadership seem blind to sexuality when it comes to giving money. GOP leaders including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., donated a combined $15,000 to DeMaio since the summer.
Forbes, however, is less offended by leaders giving their own money to candidates. He is focused, instead, on keeping the party’s National Republican Congressional Committee from donating funds to gay candidates.
Forbes’ argues that is because Republican members of Congress are asked to donate money to the NRCC.
“That would be a different situation if they tried to force other members to give money,” Forbes told Politico.
NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in a statement that after the Republican primaries, decisions on whether to donate money to candidates will be decided on the merits of each race, not a candidate’s sexuality.
“Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender or sexual orientation, but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats,” Walden said in a statement.