At a brunch event at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Wednesday morning, Caitlyn Jenner took the stage to reaffirm her commitment to both LGBT rights and the Grand Old Party.
“I've been very disappointed over the last five-ten years…but I won’t give up on [the GOP],” Jenner told the gathering of pro-LGBT Republicans. “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder coming out as a Republican.”
Jenner, who was speaking at an event organized by American Unity Fund as a counterprogramming event to the Republican National Convention, was there to stress the need for conservatives to move toward a pro-LGBT stance. The Q&A was moderated by AUF President Margaret Hoover. (Disclosure: Hoover is married to The Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief, John Avlon.)
“Maybe this is the reason God put me on this earth, to tell my story,” Jenner said. “And maybe at this point in my life and at this point society...maybe [God] thinks I can make a difference in the world.”
Jenner also slammed elements of the GOP and conservative movement that engage in what she called anti-LGBT legislative “bullying,” specifically referencing North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom legislation as “creating laws for a non-issue.” Jenner called out anti-gay Republican politicians, including Larry Craig, who themselves have been “arrested for lewd behavior.”
“The party conventions are like the political Olympics, and I’m excited to be headed to Cleveland to stand with my fellow LGBT Republicans and allies,” Jenner said in a statement sent to The Daily Beast earlier this month. “As a proud Republican and transgender woman, I want to support courageous Republicans who advocate for LGBT freedom. Our country’s nondiscrimination laws must be updated and this cannot be achieved without bipartisan support. Congress needs to act, along with almost 30 Republican states, to update our nondiscrimination laws. I want to do my part to persuade more Republicans to support freedom for millions of LGBT Americans.”
TV personality and military veteran Montel Williams, another pro-LGBT conservative celebrity, introduced Jenner at the brunch in Cleveland.
“As a veteran, I put my life on the line to defend all Americans,” Williams told The Daily Beast. “I’ll be there to help ensure the right of the LGBT community to serve and defend the Constitution… We need to get this straight. If you want to send people to war, some of those people are going to be our fellow LGBT Americans.
During this election cycle, it appears Republican Party will not be granting any of Jenner or Williams’s wishes.
The two were declaring their solidarity with the LGBT community in Cleveland—the city where the GOP had just ratified a new party platform that is even more anti-LGBT than 2012’s.
“We are part of society, we’re out there, we’re part of humanity,” Jenner said. “We’ve been around...since the beginning of time.”