Despite a spotty record on LGBT rights that included co-sponsorship of the anti-gay First Amendment Defense Act, Sen. John McCain of Arizona picked up the endorsement of LGBT conservative group Log Cabin Republicans.
Log Cabin Republicans came out with their latest round of endorsements for United States Senate races on Thursday. McCain, the GOP's failed presidential nominee in 2008, is among the six endorsed candidates.
Joining McCain are: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R- NH), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who will receive support from LCR PAC in their campaigns for re-election. Interesting to note, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was not endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans.
"As members of the greatest deliberative body in the country, these endorsed United States Senators represent some of the most important voices in support of LGBT freedom," Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement released Thursday.
The endorsement of McCain, who was a stalwart foe of same-sex marriage and who called the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell a "very sad day" marks a significant shift in the four-term Senator's position on LGBT rights. Although up until a year ago, he regularly appeared as a guest on Family Research Council Radio where he said to hate group leader Tony Perkins "Thanks for the great work you do," 2016 has seen McCain begin to shift from Opponent to Ally.
Most notable of McCain's shift was his vocal support of the confirmation of openly gay Eric Fanning as secretary of the Army.
Still, McCain's 2015 co-sponsorship of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that would prevent the federal government from taking action against a person who discriminates against same-sex couples under the guise of "religious freedom," has many troubled.
"McCain is in a tough re-election race, and he needs to broaden his coalition whenever he can. Discrimination against gays is now a big loser politically in most states, and that even includes Arizona - which is not nearly as conservative as it used to be," Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia told NBC News.
"I'm grateful to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans," McCain said of his endorsement Thursday. "This organization does great work in supporting fiscally conservative values while championing equality through policy. I look forward to working to continuing to work with them in the U.S. Senate."
In U.S. House races, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed seven candidates, including two from Florida. The endorsements are as follows: Congressman Mike Coffman, (R-CO), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Robert Dold (R-IL), John Katko (R-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).
Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen represent districts in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. In a news release Curbelo said, “The Log Cabin Republicans have done important work building consensus on LGBT issues across the country. In Congress I have been proud to stand up for equality. I am honored to have the support of Republicans who understand that equality can never be a partisan issue.”
Ros-Lehtinen, mother of a transgender man, stated: “I am grateful to once again count on the support of Log Cabin Republicans as we work together to achieve equality and justice for LGBT Americans. I will continue to promote inclusiveness and ensure the fair and equal treatment of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”