UPDATE: The Colorado Log Cabin Republicans confirm that George Gramer, a US Army Colonel, was booed at the May, 2012 GOP state convention by El Paso County Republicans, including admitted boo-er Dave Williams. However, no Log Cabin representative was able to confirm previous allegations that anti-gay slurs were used. At the same convention, nearly 50% of Republicans supported a resolution favoring civil unions, and Ryan Call, Colorado Republican Party Chairman, scolded booers at the assembly for their lack of respect, as well as apologizing directly to the Log Cabin Republicans and to George personally for the booers' boorish behavior. Kudos to Call for behaving in a statesmanlike fashion when faced with bad actors within his party.
Last night's post was just a teaser.
Today, in part two of three (yes, there's more!) let's really dig into Dave Williams, El Paso County GOP Vice Chair and a current candidate for El Paso County Republican Party Chair. Specifically, let's talk about his, ah, strained relationship to the gay community, and what that means for the leadership of a county where homosexuality has frequently dominated political discourse.
Dave Williams has a problem with gays. That's not my theory. That's a fact. As student body President at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Williams was impeached for acting in a discriminatory manner against gay students.Williams cited his personal beliefs in refusing to sign off on funding for a "Coming Out Day" event. Although the event ultimately received funding, GBLT student group Spectrum and the student body senate, along with the school's chancellor, agreed that Williams failed to act objectively–a requirement of his student leadership office–in evaluating Spectrum's funding request.
But, here's the rub: It wasn't Spectrum that led the fight to impeach David. It was a coalition led by UCCS College Republicans, burned by Williams' alleged "inquisitions" into whether or not his fellow College Republicans were "friends of the gay community." According to Republican sources, Williams believes that homoesexuality is the biggest problem in society today. His McCarthy-esque attempt to purge gay sympathizers from the College Republicans amounts, in my opinion, to bullying–and UCCS gay students agreed, eventually holding a safety rally to address concerns about verbal and physical abuse of gay students on campus during Williams' term as student body president.
Bullying. Now, does that sound familiar? It should, because, three years later, bullying is exactly what Williams engaged in during the Republican party assembly, when he booed Log Cabin Republicans. Some Republican sources report that slurs including "queer," "faggot," and "fairy" were used during a speech by a Log Cabin Republican who is also a retired Army colonel. (I've asked the Log Party Republicans for comment, and will publish any response I receive.)
Nothing seems to excite Williams like the chance to bully homosexuals. He's testified twice before the Colorado legislature. Both times, Williams spoke against civil unions. I won't mince words: Williams was a homophobic bully in college, and he's a homophobic bully today.
At one time, that alone might have qualified Williams to lead the El Paso County GOP. After all, we're talking about a part of the state where one of the nastiest 2012 Republican primaries turned into a gay-hating contest, one which challenger Marsha Looper won (though she later lost the primary) when her campaign manager outed Looper's gay son. The email in which Looper's son was outed asked voters to "Praise God!" for Looper's willingness to oppose GBLT rights, even though she has a gay son.
Today–not even a year later–the same anti-gay bullying that might once have made Williams a rising star has set off a schism in his party. The Colorado Republican Party was badly burned by the 2012 election cycle. Even in El Paso County, they're well aware that the GOP must evolve to stay relevant. I have heard no complaints about Williams' behavior from Democrats, although we can surely assume that, should he win the chairman's seat, Democrats will gladly use his name, likeness, and bullying to fundraise in the 2014 cycle. I have heard outrage and disgust at Williams' homophobic bullying from Republicans, including fellow Polster Elliot Fladen.
In a year when civil unions will pass the Colorado legislature, and when Colorado boasts an openly gay Speaker of the House, El Paso County Republicans have a choice to make. Republican insiders have told me the chairman's race is effectively tied, and I'll fill readers in later today on Williams' attempts to paint both his opponent and the current chair as corrupt in order to rally GOP activists behind his own campaign. He's got a strategy, and he's not afraid to play dirty–both in campaigning and in bullying fellow Republicans for being "friends of the gay community." But he's also got a problem: Many Republicans no longer agree that gay-bashing belongs in the GOP platform. Even some of those who oppose civil unions are uncomfortable with anti-gay slurs and the booing of a military veteran for his sexuality.
Why am I reporting so heavily on a chair race in a county where I'll likely never live, between people I've never met? Because Dave Williams is the Punxsutawney Phil of the Colorado Republican Party. The chair's race is GOP Groundhog Day, and if Williams casts his shadow from the Chairman's seat, El Paso County Republicans can look forward to two more years of a party built only by subtraction and exclusion–of gays, of Muslims (more on Williams' feelings about Muslims in Part Three), and of heterosexual Republicans who dare to believe that gays deserve to be treated like human beings.
Later today, learn more about which sexual minorities Dave Williams DOES allegedly believe in protecting….