Big Loss for Gay GOP Candidates: Republican Party's Leadership's Support Can't Beat Social Conservative Voters

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) comments on talks aimed at averting a looming U.S. debt default, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 11, 2011.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) comments on talks aimed at averting a looming U.S. debt default, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 11, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Conservative voters slammed the door shut on two openly gay Republican candidates in last Tuesday's midterm elections despite strong support of their political bids from some members of the party's leadership.

Just last month, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, supported openly gay Republican candidates Carl Demaio of California and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, defying opposition from conservative groups like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage, which argued that his actions were against the Republican platform.

The group of conservatives sent a letter to Boehner, National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Greg Walden (Oregon) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) protesting the party's support for DeMaio, Tisei, and Senate hopeful Monica Wehby of Oregon, who supports abortion and gay marriage.

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"Carl DeMaio, Richard Tisei and Monica Wehby are antithetical to the Republican platform," wrote the conservatives. "Mr. DeMaio supports and aggressively advocates for the redefinition of marriage, and welcomed the judicial activism of the federal courts which stripped the people of California of their votes in support of maintaining marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

All three candidates lost their political bids in last week's elections. Another openly gay Republican, Dan Innis, also ran in New Hampshire's 1st District, but he lost to Frank Guinta in the Republican primary in September according to this report.

Openly gay Republican candidate from California, Carl Demaio.
Openly gay Republican candidate from California, Carl Demaio. | (Photo: Facebook/Carl Demaio)

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Christian Post in an interview Monday that it would be helpful to Republican politicians to pay attention to the full Republican platform which includes the conservative position on hot-button social issues like religious freedom, abortion and same-sex marriage.

"For one I think it was not necessarily embracing the Republicans. It was rejecting President Obama and his direct assault on religious liberty and his pushing of a radical cultural agenda. So it's an outright denunciation of this president and his policies," said Perkins in comments on last week's thrashing of the Democrats at the polls by Republican candidates.

"You look at the elections where the Republican candidates, especially those who had a larger margin of success… It was the candidate that embraced the full conservative agenda including the social issues [who did well]," continued Perkins.

"Tom Cotton (Republican Senator-elect, Arkansas), Joni Ernst (Republican Senator-elect, Iowa). Even Thom Tillis (Republican Senator-elect, North Carolina) who in the end came out very supportive of marriage in his home state of North Carolina when it was attacked by the courts. So the speaker or any Republican leader who fails to acknowledge the social conservative component of this election message is not listening," said Perkins.

President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, has criticized an expansion of the Employee Anti-Discrimination Act.
President of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, has criticized an expansion of the Employee Anti-Discrimination Act. | (Photo: Reuters)

"Despite the best efforts of the Republican leadership, the people, once again voted otherwise. Give the people a chance to vote on the homosexual agenda and they will defend their religious rights, parental rights, economic rights and all of their personal liberties that are threatened by the alternatives offered," noted Connie Mackey, president of Family Research Council Action PAC, in a statement on the elections to The Christian Post.

Perkins further highlighted that his organization's opposition to Demaio was not as a result of his sexual orientation but his policy position on marriage.

"Our opposition to Demaio is not based on his sexual orientation it's based upon his policy orientation. He is for redefining marriage. So we can't sit by and allow someone to come in working behind the scenes and in the arena to fight us," he said.

"It's hard enough from Republican leaders who are tone deaf to these issues. It's another issue to have someone on the inside working actively against us. So that's why there was focus on that race …and we are quite pleased that he lost," said Perkins.

"When Republicans put forward candidates like that it forces us to shift resources away from other Republican candidates that we could be supporting and helping in elections," added Perkins.

Although it wasn't explicit, Speaker Boehner appeared to strike a somewhat conciliatory tone in addressing the GOP's conservative base by referencing Luke 12:48 in comments on the midterm elections in his weekly address.

"This is also a time to consider the line in Scripture that says 'to whom much is given much is expected'. Republicans are humbled by the trust the American people have placed in us. We'll honor that trust by listening to you. By making your priorities our priorities," said Boehner.

"That means focusing first on helping middle class families still struggling to pay the bills find good paying jobs. We'll start by debating and voting on the many jobs bills the house has acted on with bipartisan support. We'll work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers," he noted.

"We'll take on Obamacare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans. These kinds of commonsense solutions by our outgoing Senate majority offer a good starting point," he added.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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