In a speech delivered at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday (July 20), former Speaker of the House and one-time rumored vice presidential pick Newt Gingrich made an unusual appeal. That is, one you’re not likely to hear at most large-scale, right-wing political gatherings in the United States: an appeal to women and LGBTs.
It was not, however, a move without ulterior motive. “If our enemies had their way,” he said—referring to “radical Islamists”—“not a single woman in this room could define her future. If our enemies had their way, gays, lesbians, and transgender citizens would be put to death, as they are today in the Islamic State and Iran.”
And it wasn’t be the first time similar appeals could be heard in Cleveland this week. Yesterday, a band of conservative firebrands, including Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, self-described “anti-jihadist” Pamela Geller, and Dutch white supremacist Geert Wilders headlined an event intended to court LGBT voters for the Trump campaign. The main idea? Democrats won’t keep the LGBT community safe from “persecution, oppression, [and] execution” at the hands of radical Islamists.
Hillary Clinton, they said, would be too constrained by “political correctness” to defend the progress enjoyed by LGBT Americans—progress by and large secured under the administration of her Democratic predecessor, president Barack Obama. Progress that would surely be undermined by the most virulently anti-LGBT platform in RNC history. In essence, Gingrich argued that a vote for Donald Trump would be better than one for Hillary Clinton, because Hillary Clinton would allow America’s enemies to persecute women and people of LGBT orientation.
Shortly after Gingrich finished his speech, Donald Trump’s running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, took to the stage. Pence is arguably among America’s most regressive politicians when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. And yet, the former Speaker of the House would have voters believe that Hillary Clinton and radical Islam pose the greatest threats to women’s welfare.