An interview with lesbian feminist Republican Sarah Longwell

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AE: Caitlyn Jenner said that coming out as a trans woman was nothing compared to coming out as a Republican. Can you relate?

SL: Sort of. For a social group that claims to value tolerance and diversity, there’s not always much tolerance from liberals for a diverse set of opinions around politics.

 

AE: Whom do you find more intolerant—Republicans of gay people or gay people of Republicans?

SL: I can’t generalize on this. I’ve seen intolerance from both sides. Luckily, however, my primary experience has been that people take you as you are and love you no matter what—gay, Republican, whatever.

Most of my friends are socially liberal and were great and supportive when I came out. But as I made new lesbian friends, they were always shocked and a bit dismayed to learn I am a Republican.

But that isn’t everyone’s experience. If your social circle is primarily comprised of evangelical conservatives, they’re going to likely take your coming out as gay or trans worse than you telling them you’re a Republican.

I had close friends who were evangelicals who acted like they felt sorry for me when I came out to them. And gave me a “love the sinner, hate the sin” speech. Several told me they’d never be able to come to my wedding. These were people I was pretty tight with, whose weddings I certainly attended.

So how people react has a lot to do with how they see the world.

 

AE: Do you believe the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds when it legalized gay marriage in all 50 states?

SL: Nope. I think it stepped just right.

 

AE: LCR endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012. Looking back, especially with regard to gay marriage, do you think he would still have been the wiser choice?

SL: I think Mitt Romney would have made an overall better President than Barack Obama, and ultimately I don’t think it would have changed the course of history on gay marriage.

Sarah being interviewed about equal marriage in 2012

AE: Ok, I’m going to go there. This question is one word: Trump?

SL: I’m #NeverTrump.

 

AE: I think a lot of women, in particular, gay women, stay away from the party because of its stance on abortion. Do you see a way around this?

SL: Yes. I think the GOP is due for an overhaul in its tone on a wide variety of issues. You can be a proponent of legal immigration, of traditional marriage, and of pro-life policies without sounding hostile toward immigrants, the LGBT community or women. John Kasich has been doing a relatively good job of this and so did Jeb Bush when he was in the race. I’m not saying a more compassionate tone will automatically send women flocking, but they may not be so turned off that they stop listening to everything else that you’re saying. I think women would feel more comfortable voting for a candidate—even if he or she were pro-life—if they felt like that candidate legitimately understood and cared about women’s health issues.

AE: Final thoughts?

SL: I don’t align myself with a political party as much as I do a set of core beliefs—I believe a free market will provide better economic solutions than the government will, I believe in the right to self-determination, I believe excessive regulation chokes innovation, etc. And more often than not, the Republican party is the party championing those same beliefs.

The GOP champions many ideas with which I disagre—its opposition to gay marriage chief among them. But in a two-party system, I’ll go with the party that represents my beliefs 80 percent of the time and fight with them over the other 20 percent.

I’ve been a vocal advocate for marriage equality and nondiscrimination within the Republican Party. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and I don’t want him to grow up in a world where he’s told there is something wrong or immoral about his family.

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