Fred Karger is a Republican political consultant, gay rights activist, and potential 2012 presidential candidate. Karger's corporate political career has spanned three decades and has included work on nine presidential campaigns. Most notably, Karger served as senior campaign adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Gerald Ford.
In 2006 Karger founded Save the Boom!!!, a grassroots campaign to save the oldest gay bar in the Western United States, the landmark Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn in Laguna Beach, California. Save the Boom!!! motivated Karger to more actively pursue his interest in LGBT politics. Soon after, Karger started Californians Against Hate, an organization devoted to bringing public attention to the Proposition 8 campaign.
He is the first openly gay candidate ever to run for the U.S. presidency.
Question: Is it contradictory to be both gay and republican?
Fred Karger: I do not think that there is a contradiction to being gay and republican, although, when stories are written, it's usually the headline: Gay Republican, and I understand why. Many leaders of the Republican Party have led the effort of gay bashing; certainly here in California going back into the 70s when I got involved. It has been the republican elected officials, along with a few, kind of, minor celebrities who have really been the major offenders in this.
You know, looking back in history, it was Abraham Lincoln, the first republican president, who freed four million slaves in this country. Theodore Roosevelt, who is my political hero, he was the most progressive republican. It was the first to invite a black for the White House, he was for women's suffrage, he was the one who really led the way in civil rights 100 years ago.
So I am trying to bring the Republican Party back to its roots of Lincoln and Roosevelt because I think it's so important. It's gotten hijacked by a few far right individuals that have abused the gay issue to win elections and that's wrong. And I hope to set that record straight by considering running for president myself. And there's a lot of basis to the Republican Party which is still very prevalent in this country; you know, less government, where as that's contradictory to some of our leaders. But the government should stay out of our private lives, and that's a Republican philosophy.
They claim in the last election, in the midterms, that 31% of the gay community voted Republican, 25% in the time before. So I just hope that there's balance, I think the Republican Party has a lot of good people. It's a little tough because of the leadership. But on the don't ask don't tell repeal and eight United States senators courageously stand up and stand up for their leadership to repeal that discriminatory law. Five more in the House of Representatives. So we're taking baby steps they're but I hope to help significantly in bringing the Republican Party back to the party it once was, as a leader in civil rights in this country.
Recorded December 22, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Directed by John Keitel
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd