By Kimberly Morin
Last week a new chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) was kicked off in New Hampshire. The organization has chapters across the country and seeks to promote LGBTQ conservatism and inclusivity in the Republican Party. LCR hopes to help “advance the rights, liberties and principles based on our Constitution throughout New Hampshire.”
LCR held the kick off with New Hampshire Republicans in attendance including Governor Sununu, Senate President Chuck Morse, Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper and many more. The party was held in Portsmouth where LCR Co-Vice Chairman Doug Palardy owns a business with husband Dan Innis, who is also a New Hampshire State Senator. Co-Vice Chairman Matt Mayberry, former vice-chairman for the New Hampshire Republican Party was also at the kick-off event. This week, Political Buzz interviewed the two co-vice chairs to get the inside scoop on one of the newest LCR chapters in the country:
What made you decide to start an LCR chapter in New Hampshire?
Doug: I got involved with LCR because Dan is on the National Board so was I fairly well-schooled on LCR and learned quite a bit about it and always thought for the past few years there should be a New Hampshire chapter. It seemed kind of odd that a state that’s so politically involved in all angles that there wouldn’t be an LCR chapter here. And then Adam Lord (Chair of the National Board) contacted me a couple months ago and said that he was working to get one going and asked me to help with that and I was very thankful that he was willing to put in the leg work and we started getting it off the ground.
How did you become involved Matt?
Matt: If you know Doug Palardy at all, you don’t say no to Doug. Doug is a powerhouse and he makes things happen so when Doug calls and says “I’m doing this, I want your help,” then absolutely. And it came from wrapping up a stint as the NH GOP Vice Chair and being a very visible and vocal Republican activist who happens to be gay.
So why not give voice to others, because the Republican Party, one thing that I’ve worked on and that Doug has worked on, Dan has worked on and others is expanding and growing the Republican Party. So, this is a natural extension of what we’ve been trying to do over the last two years under Jennifer Horn, which is growing the party; include more voices; include more diverse voices.
Have you found there are a lot of people in New Hampshire who are interested not only in the organization but joining the organization as well?
Matt: Both straight and gay, absolutely. This is truly a natural extension of personal responsibility and limited government. It’s the natural growth of the Republican Party.
In general, other than New Hampshire Democrats, the response has been pretty positive correct?
Doug: It’s been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve gotten such good feedback. The minute it started getting out we were being formed, we’ve had people emailing and calling to become members. At the event the other night, we had maybe a half dozen people say they were interested in becoming board members. Really, the only negative has been really coming from the Democrats in the state. We’re unfortunately a threat to their narrative. And they’re not excited we’re existing in the state.
Matt: Exactly, the actors in the play are changing. When you look at the Republican Party, people may have been in various stages of being out or public with their orientation but there were gays in both parties for a long time. One of the things that Doug and I noticed was that about 60%, maybe 55% of the people who were in that room [at the kick off] were first-time attendees to any political event. We finally gave a platform in which a conservative person who happens to be gay could express their political beliefs.
Coming out as a gay conservative
Doug: Young or old, it’s truly harder to come out as a gay conservative than coming out, period. It’s not easy and I think we’re changing the way that’s seen on a visible level; that the Republican Party is inclusive and is open to diversity and it’s not what the Democrats make it out to be.
I think Matt and I are two people who certainly know that and have worked with so many people in the state and I’ve never once had any negative feedback or connotation with a Republican in this state. I’ve gotten more slack from Ray Buckley [Chair of the New Hampshire Democrat Party] than any Republican has ever given me in the years I’ve lived in New Hampshire.
You held the big event, what are your next steps from here?
Matt: The event sold out in 10 days and that was before the governor even announced he was attending. Once he announced he was attending, we developed a waiting list, which was great. Now what we’re doing is going to work on our campaign viability. We now have cash in the bank so we can get across the room. We’re going to integrate ourselves into local and county committees just as regular, normal members.
Doug: And Democrats know with so many close races in the state, to peel off say 20% of the LGBT community in the state from their voting roles is not what they want to see. It might be 20% now, it might be 25% next year. It will continue to change that just because you are gay or lesbian or trans, doesn’t mean you are forced to be a Democrat.
Both Palardy and Mayberry plan on expanding and maybe re-arranging the board due to the wide-spread interest during their kick-off event. Currently Adam Lord is the Chairman and Dylan Cruess, who they noted is ‘straight’, is the treasurer. New Hampshire Log Cabin Republicans will be publishing upcoming events and seem to already be taking the state by storm.