When Sawyer asked Jenner if he would be willing to ask the Republican congressional leadership to support LGBT issues, Jenner said he would. “In a heartbeat, why not?” Jenner said. “And I think they’d be very receptive to it.” He also insisted that neither Democrats nor Republicans have a monopoly on “understanding.”
Log Cabin Republicans congratulated Jenner on what the organization called, “tremendous courage” after the interview. Naturally, there were plenty of detractors -- particularly on social media.
There are many ways to read a tweet, and particularly a Steve Cohen Tweet. Still, it's completely fair to ask if it's even appropriate to assume that Jenner's outward transformation would also prompt a change in political affiliation. Jenner's gender identity is, of course, only one part of who Jenner is. During the first six decades of life, Jenner apparently agreed with conservative Republican ideas.
On another level, Cohen was asking a question that many people might ask, given how closely intertwined the LGBT community is with the Democratic Party.
A Gallup poll which surveyed American voters between January and May shared with The Fix today found that LGBT Americans rank among the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituencies. A full 66 describe themselves as Democrats or independents who lean left. Only 19 percent described themselves as Republicans or independents who lean right. That’s a party split that’s considerably different than what Gallup described as non-LGBT Americans, where voters are nearly evenly divided.
That’s also a party split much like what Gallup found in 2014. Execpt today, Democrats have gained a sliver of ground with LGBT voters and Republicans have lost it.
Basically no other groups skew as much to the left, besides African Americans, Asian Americans and religiously unaffiliated voters, according to Pew data.
And there are some very good reasons for the kind of Democratic Party loyalty that a majority of LGBT voters exhibit. After all, the Republican Party platform includes firm opposition to gay marriage, and Republicans across the country are passing so-called religious freedom laws that LGBT groups say target their rights..
In addition, a wave of local and state efforts to protect the rights of LGBT individuals or the option to use public restrooms that conform with their gender identities have faced the wrath of conservative voters, organized campaigns that harnessed the likes of Republican and conservative-Christian reality TV star Michelle Duggar, or been felled by Republican legislators who authored or voted for bills that would stand in the way of expanding LGBT rights.
But it's also worth nothing that the July Gallup poll results looked a lot like an October 2012 poll run by the same organization. When it comes to LGBT Americans, it seems there's generally been very little movement between the parties, despite the growing gap between where the parties stand on issues that matter to many in that community.
Then, of course, there is the reaction to Jenner's Vanity Fair cover in conservative corners of Twitter. Salon described the reaction as "awful." But most of the tweets included in the Salon piece might be more accurately described as dubious, confused or outright ideologically opposed to the idea that a person can be transgender, period. And this, of course, brings us back to Caitlyn Jenner.
The importance of Twitter as a cultural force is debatable. But, that kind of rapid movement on Twitter does give some credence to something else that Jenner said about politics and culture in that April sitdown with Sawyer. Jenner explained that his outward transition and the media attention it would inevitably continue to draw amount to a sort of public service, making many more Americans aware of what it means to be transgender. And that, Jenner said, could include the Republican Party's leadership.