The group, which has in recent years emphasized a nonpartisan stance on most issues, says the shifting environment around LGBT rights makes the diversity of ideology an important consideration for expanding its membership.
Sometimes, the definition of “diversity” means something different depending on your organization’s place in the world.
Case in point: The LGBT Congressional Staff Association, whose new president emphasized recently that the group hopes to gain more Republican members in its ranks.
The group, which represents House staffers on both sides of the aisle, has recently emphasized its role as a nonpartisan group that’s open to people on both sides of the aisle. In an interview with Roll Call, the group’s president, Todd Sloves, explained that the changing political tide around gay rights has made it so there are more openly LGBT staffers who work for Republican legislators.
“We are now starting to get into a time when LGBT folks come to work on the Hill—[they] are Republicans, are working for Republicans, and don’t feel like they have to keep that a secret,” Sloves, a legislative assistant for Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), stated. “Obviously, it’s a case-by-case basis, but I think that’s a sign of the fact that we no longer put out this impression that we are a Democrats-only group.”
Sloves took his role on about a week ago, after being elected earlier this month. But the group has been taking steps in this direction for a while. In 2014, for example, it specifically changed its approach advocacy, removing its policy director and emphasizing the group was nonpartisan, taking stances only on issues that directly affect LGBT congressional staffers.
And the group’s past-president, Mitchell Rivard, put on events specifically targeted at GOP staffers, including a tour of the Pentagon with then-Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of a military branch.
“We’re a nonpartisan organization, this is very important to me in particular because I feel like we’re constantly trying to find Republicans to be involved,” Rivard said last year in a Roll Call profile.
Like Rivard, Sloves says his goal is to ensure a diverse membership—one that differs in terms of race, gender, and ideology.
“One of the problems that our organization has had for a long time is we have an event, we’re going to end up with—just by nature of D.C. and the gay community and the Hill—a lot of gay, white men showing up to an event,” Sloves added. “That’s sort of how the organization started, but it’s not necessarily the future of the organization.”