America’s first television ads for an openly gay Presidential candidate screened last month in the state of Iowa.
Republican Fred Karger is a political consultant with over 35 years experience including three Presidential races, and is the founder of Californians Against Hate, a group that monitors donations to anti-gay activist groups.
In April this year Karger announced he was considering running as an independent Republican presidential candidate and in August he launched an exploratory committee to test the waters of the campaign.
His announcement was not without controversy within a party that during the modern era has been known as a conservative bastion and the political home of foes of gay rights.
Soon after Karger’s announcement an Iowa delegate to the Republican National Committee labeled him as a member of the “radical homosexual community”.
But Karger told the Star Observer he hoped to bring the Republican Party, which in the 19th century abolished slavery and gave women the vote, back to its progressive roots.
“One of my political heroes was the last progressive Republican president of the United States 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt,” Karger said.
“He helped create the middle class in this country, and by example worked hard to end discrimination.
“I feel the Republican Party has lost its direction, and I want to work to make it far more inclusive.”
Karger supports the legalisation of same-sex marriage and wants gays and lesbians to be able to serve openly in the military, while other priorities include education and immigration reform.
Karger said he was glad to see the US Congress pass the Mathew Sheppard Hate Crimes Act which adds harsher penalties to homophobic crimes, but remained concerned by FBI statistics showing that GLBTIs remained the group most targeted for hate crimes in America.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center just published its list of hate groups in this country, and two of the most notable hate groups they cited are James Dobson’s Family Research Council and the National Organisation for Marriage,” he said.
“These two non-profit organisations have spent tens of millions of dollars bashing the LGBT community.”