Boehner: GOP should support its openly gay candidates
December 5th, 2013
01:34 PM ET
4 years ago

Boehner: GOP should support its openly gay candidates

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET, 12/5/2013

Washington (CNN) – House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he believes the GOP should support the party's openly gay candidates.

"I do," he said when asked by CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash if he backs such House hopefuls.

His answer comes as a GOP congressman from Virginia is pressuring a national Republican campaign group to withhold financial support for the party's gay candidates.

Rep. Randy Forbes has been trying to persuade the National Republican Congressional Committee not to back gay Republican House candidates. The story was first reported by Politico, and confirmed by CNN.

The NRCC is tasked with recruiting and helping to elect candidates, as well as incumbents, to the House every two years. For part of its financial substance, it collects millions of dollars in membership dues from incumbent lawmakers.

In next year's midterm elections, there are two openly gay GOP candidates who are well positioned to challenge Democratic incumbents. Richard Tisei, a former state lawmaker who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012, is running again for a Massachusetts seat.

In San Diego, former city councilman Carl DeMaio is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters. DeMaio ran for San Diego mayor last year, but lost to the now-disgraced Democrat Bob Filner, who resigned after facing a barrage of sexual harassment claims.

Both candidates would have to face primaries before being guaranteed a spot on the November general election ballot. But if they do win their respective primaries, they've been widely praised as potential pick-ups for the GOP in the House. Rep. Patrick McHenry, who serves as the NRCC's top recruiter, has touted both as top-tier candidates.

The NRCC backed Tisei last year with $1.6 million, so they have a history of supporting openly gay candidates.

"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," said Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the NRCC.

Forbes did not question the NRCC's support of Tisei in the last cycle. There's been speculation that Forbes is just now bringing the issue up because he's aiming for the chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee–and that he also hasn't paid his NRCC dues yet.

Those members who chair committees, or are seeking to gain top posts on committees, are expected to contribute to the party's effort to re-elect Republicans and expand the number of GOP members in the House.

In a statement to CNN, Forbes said "the definition of marriage is an issue with widely divergent opinions passionately held by both sides."

"This is true of the Republican Party, as it is of society as a whole," he continued. "Our goal is to make certain every individual has the right to express his or her belief, while no one is compelled to support financially or otherwise, those who disagree with them. It is my belief that we are trying to strike this balance and we will continue to work to accomplish this goal."

Forbes has raised more than $136,000 for the NRCC this year and "will continue to offer his support" to expand the GOP's majority in the House, according to his spokesman.

The recent dust-up comes as more Republican lawmakers have toned down their opposition to–or have expressed outright support for–gay rights issues and same-sex marriage in the last couple of years.

Asked about Forbes opposition to NRCC money for gay candidates, McHenry–the GOP group's top recruiter–disagreed with his colleague.

"If you are a top notch candidate you deserve the support of our party infrastructure and what we need to do is get the best candidates to return Republican seats back to Republican hands," he said Thursday. "My agenda is to field Republican candidates who can beat Democrats, who can be good members of Congress and help solve the nation's problems."

While Boehner's comments made headlines Thursday, some were skeptical of his answer.

“Talk is cheap – it does little good to support gay candidates if you’re willing to fire gay Americans,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay Democratic Congressman from New York.

“If he really does believe in equality, Speaker Boehner should stop blocking the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act and bring it to the House floor for a vote," he continued. "So we can say once and for all that Americans should only be judged by the work that they do, not who they are or who they love.”

Filed under: 2014 • Gay rights • John Boehner
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    I do agree with that. No one should be persecuting others, for religious based beliefs, and the gay issue, has been entirely about religious persecution, from organized religion.

    December 5, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Chuck Anziulewicz

    What's the sound of thousands of Tea Party heads exploding?

    December 5, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    He said the gay word wingnuts! Primary him!

    December 5, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |

    Gay Republicants? Is that's like an exalted cyclop with a black wife?

    December 5, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. CB FL

    Then why don't he bring the bill ENDA to the floor for a vote. Once again its all talk and no action.

    December 5, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    His [Boehner's] answer comes as a GOP congressman from Virginia is pressuring a national Republican campaign group to withhold financial support for the party's gay candidates.

    Rep. Randy Forbes has been trying to persuade the National Republican Congressional Committee not to back gay Republican House candidates, according to a story reported by Politico.
    Okay, so the follow up question should be about the level of support for Rep. Forbes.

    December 5, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Dan

    Looks more and more like I won't have to decide whether to vote republican again

    December 5, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Name

    Yes, support gay republican candidates but deny gay rights. Schizoidphrenic.

    December 5, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    @Rick McD "No one should be persecuting others, for religious based beliefs"
    Agreed but persecution and State Religion is one of the corner stones of the Radical Right. I guess everyone is starting to run from the Crazy.

    December 5, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Vence

    Interesting proposal Mr. Boehner. The shell is starting to open. I will pry you change your position on immigration too. Specially now that your boss Rush Limbaugh just called the Pope Marxist and Sara Palin called him too liberal. Some people say you call him Che Guevara too.

    December 5, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. rs

    It would be nice if the GOP were consistent here- obviously they ought to support their Gay candidate(s?), but at the same time they ought to support Gay rights as well.

    December 5, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    You won't be Speaker too much longer making statements like that Boehner. You don't pass the purity test.

    December 5, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Leftcoastrocky

    Boehner should bring ENDA to the floor for a vote (or he should just shut up)

    December 5, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Yes, support gay republican candidates but deny gay rights. Schizoidphrenic.
    Reoublicans are nothing if not schizophrenic and hypocritical in their stances and "beliefs".

    December 5, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama: "I am here to tell you my dear friend, that here in the state of Maryland my Catholic church would offer up prayers for "our President and elected officials, so that they may blah, blah, blah". This was a common practice at my well-attended church, that offers 6 masses on Sunday. That time honored practice dissappeared in 2009.

    I am neither surprised nor shocked, and THAT Dominican mama, is putting it mildly. Blatant, you say? And folks think others don't notice or understand these little "nuances" that began crawling out of the woodwork election day 2008?

    I am trying to remember precisely when my church stopped offering up prayers for "our President and elected officials, so that they may blah, blah, blah". It actually goes back farther than President Obama and into GW Bush territory. During the lead up to the Iraq war and his "axis of evil" meme, if I am not mistaken. We still do offer up government prayers on election day but the "for our President and for our elected officials" remains missing.

    I actually began my hiatus from the church when our church started promoting Rick Warren. As with you, I've gone back but am no longer active within the church. We have new leadership within and I've placed myself on a wait and see list.

    I wish you and I had met under different circumstances. We have so much we could share with one another without the prying eyes ready to pounce on our every word. Your t-shirt, DM4O? I wear mine up north (GOPerville through and through) ... fishing, dining, and walking. I can't begin to tell you the pleasure I get discussing why I have it and why I still wear it.

    December 5, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Look, i stand behind my fellow gay GOP members.well maby not so close.

    December 5, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Boomer in Mo

    The TP'ers will end his career over this. Sir Orange will have to go back to the bar.

    December 5, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    The right and the left go back and forth attacking Boehner and Reid for not bringing bills from the other chamber to their respective floors for a vote. It seems pretty evenly matched and argued. NOT. Liberals win the argument, hands down.

    Why? Because of a little thing known as a Silent Filibuster. The rules for bringing legislation to the floor for a debate and a vote differ betweeen the House and Senate. Any Democrats can filibuster any bill coming out of the House. Sen. Reid has nothing to do with it. Not so in the House, where the House Speaker decides what comes up and what does not.

    December 5, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Tommy G

    Who cares if they are gay and want to run for office and are viable candidates that can win? Of course the leftists will attack them just like they do any blacks or hispanics that run as Republicans. Democrats think they OWN people.

    December 5, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Laverne

    Talk about a double standard, I support your candidacy, but I don't support you having rights. This is getting a little weird!!!

    December 5, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    ""Buying insurance across state lines sounds good, but what if your doctor does not accept that insurance because it is out of the network? ""

    Just to elaborate on my last post about this, here's how it works: legislation passes allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, red states quickly fight to be the least regulated insurance state and crawl right in bed with the insurance lobby to find out how insurers would write the regulation of themselves, the red states do precisely what the insurers tell them to do in hopes they can be the lucky state to attract all of that industry to relocate to their state, THEN that one red state sets the standard for insurance for the rest of the country. It would be "nationalized" regulation in effect, but would really be just one state telling the rest of the country how their insurance should be regulated and that level of regulation would be as minimalist as possible and completely beholden to the insurance industry for fear that it would pick up and move to another state that makes a better offer. If you think insurance companies are giving you the shaft now, just imagine what they could get away with if we handed them the pen and paper and told them to write their own regulations, which is basically what "buying insurance across state lines" would do.

    December 5, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. rosethornne

    Oh dear, Mr Boener is about to be disowned as the devil by the foaming radical extremists in his own party.

    December 5, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Oh yes. "Pray for immigration", support the gay candidates, have "classes" on how to deal with women and
    women candidiates........................the pandering begins.

    Say whatever you can teapublicans, there is an election coming soon and we have to start conning everybody
    with our faux concern. Whatever it takes to get your vote. I wouldn't be surprised if they start hinting at
    fair wages or present a plan for health care. None of which would be serious efforts.

    Then they will slap you back down and continue on as usual.

    December 5, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  24. Randy, San Francisco

    Speaker Boehner will renege on his support of Republican gay candidates after he receives a beating behind the wood shed from Tea Partiers and evangelical social conservatives.

    December 5, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. skipper_1

    John Boehner supporting gays? that's a taboo. I guess tealibans will unleash barrage of attacks ending his spell at his crying speakership.

    December 5, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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