Richard Grenell, until recently the highest-ranking gay appointee in Donald Trump’s administration, has been on a Twitter tirade the past few days, accusing the LGBTQ Victory Fund of partisanship and retweeting a video that shows Joe Biden didn’t always support marriage equality (Trump still doesn't support same-sex marriage).
On Sunday, Grenell took umbrage with an ABC News story about the Victory Fund's efforts at electing LGBTQ+ candidates.
Grenell, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, then tweeted numerous attacks against the Victory Fund and its CEO, the former mayor of Houston, Annise Parker (Grenell has a habit of attacking powerful women, see below).
Grenell accused the Victory Fund of not financially supporting LGBTQ+ Republicans, including Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member who ran for Congress from California in 2014. He said the group should be reported to the IRS, even though it doesn’t have tax-exempt status.
Victory Fund and its CEO, Annise Parker, replied that the group endorses and funds out candidates across the political spectrum, but few LGBTQ+ people run as Republicans — not surprising, as the party has been hostile to LGBTQ+ people for decades. In addition to being out, Victory Fund considers other factors in endorsing, such as a candidate’s viability.
It’s true the group didn’t endorse DeMaio in 2014, but that year it did back two gay Republican congressional candidates, Dan Innis of New Hampshire and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts. It didn’t comment at the time on the lack of endorsement for DeMaio, saying it was policy not to comment on candidates it didn’t endorse.
The race between DeMaio and Democrat Scott Peters was a close and controversial one. A former DeMaio staffer, Todd Bosnich, accused him of sexual harassment, and Peters’s campaign manager took the charges to police. But Bosnich eventually admitted he made up emails to provide evidence of harassment and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. Peters, a straight man, is still in office and has received perfect 100 ratings from the Human Rights Campaign.
On Biden, the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nominee, Grenell Monday retweeted a video shared by right-wing talk show host Drew Berquist of the politician on Meet the Press in 2006, saying there was no need for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage because the Defense of Marriage Act had established the federal government’s position that marriage is solely a union between a man and a woman. Biden was then a U.S. senator. Berquist claimed the “mainstream media” wouldn’t share the video, which he thanked conservative actor James Woods for flagging.
In reality, The Advocate and other publications, including The New York Times, have been very clear that Biden didn’t always support marriage equality. He famously endorsed it in an appearance on Meet the Press in 2012, when he was Barack Obama’s vice president, and Obama followed a few days later. Other leading Democrats, such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, have similarly “evolved” on the issue.
In a tweet from Sunday, Grenell cast conservatives as victims, questioning the results of a presidential poll due to “this crazy cancel culture.” Journalist Ana Marie Cox responded thus:
Grenell resigned as acting director of national intelligence in June, as he was expected to do once a new director (John Ratcliffe) was confirmed. Trump has said he expects Grenell to return to the administration in a high-level post eventually. Grenell has been offered the one-year position of senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, but about 200 faculty and staff members have signed a letter urging that the offer be withdrawn due to Grenell’s “history of ties to extremist, xenophobic groups” and “record of sexism and support for racist political movements.”
Grenell hasn’t been a favorite of LGBTQ+ activists at home or abroad, and he has been criticized by German politicians who felt he was trying to interfere in the nation’s domestic affairs. A longtime active social media presence, he’s known for making fun of the appearance of powerful women, such as Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow. He’s also a staunch defender of Trump, despite the president’s many anti-LGBTQ+ actions.