This Gay Texan Wants the World to Know He’s an Out-and-Proud Republican
Jason Vaughn — a self-avowed gay officer of the Texas Young Republicans whose public Facebook posts consist entirely of marketing giveaways — recently wrote a personal column at the Texas Tribune entitled, “As a gay Texan, I’ve found a place in the Republican tent.“ The piece explains why he’s a gay Republican. In short, it’s because Republicans are anti-abortion.
In the column, Vaughn says he publicly came out as gay during his Congressional testimony in support of the 2015 Pastor Protection Act, a Republican bill that reaffirmed pastors and churches can’t be forced to participate in same-sex weddings. (Of course, Texan pastors were never in threat of being forced to do so, thanks to Texan and U.S. constitutions.)
LGBTQ activists feared that homophobic county clerks and justices of the peace would cite the bill as proof they could refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Kim Davis-style.
According to Vaughn, “The legislation reiterated that conservative Christians have the right to live as they wanted to live — just like I wanted to.” He’s stretching a vague generalization there, but OK.
During his testimony, Vaughn said he could have deep disagreements with people and still treat them with respect, adding, “Personally I have friends from Jonathan Saenz to a gay communist stripper.”
While the line got laughs, Jonathan Saenz is a bad man. He’s the President of Texas Values, an anti-LGBTQ group. He has compared same-sex marriage to incest, supports psychologically harmful “conversion therapy” for LGBTQ kids and helped overturn transgender protection laws in Houston. On the plus side, his wife left him for another woman.
So why is gay Republican Jason Vaughn friends with an anti-LGBTQ activist? “He’s always been friendly and we work together on many pro-life issues,” Vaughn says, adding, “When you refuse to participate in personal attacks and focus on ideas, it’s amazing the progress you can make.”
This “progress” Vaughn’s talking about includes a 2017 state law forbidding health insurance from covering women’s abortions and other laws requiring a woman to make two visits to an abortion provider and to see a sonogram image of the child or hear its heartbeat before agreeing the procedure. Two other recent state laws made abortions inaccessible for the majority of Texas woman, but the Supreme Court struck them down.
Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association oppose some of Texas’s abortion laws because excessive restrictions on abortion care jeopardize women’s health.
Near the conclusion of his column, Vaughn writes:
“Why are you a Republican?” That is the question I receive all the time. The answer is simple. There is no other place to go. Yes, I could become a Libertarian because I believe in small government, but then I would just be ineffectual. Yes, I could become a Democrat because they are more pro-gay, but then I’d have to give up almost every other political belief I have.
Vaughn believes “the Republican Party is a true big tent party” that has room for people with different opinions. But if the opinions range from “Let’s outlaw abortion” to “Let’s gut same-sex marriage,” then the tent stinks and one should seriously question their desire to stay in it.
To his meagre credit, at the end of his column, Vaughn links to The Liberty Education Forum, “a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on reaching out to conservatives and people of faith about issues facing gay and lesbian Americans.” Though the site seems earnest — opposing Trump’s transgender military ban, calling homosexuality “innate” and ex-gay therapy “harmful” — the LEF’s page on marriage is strangely outdated, mentioning the Defense of Marriage Act that was struck down in 2013.