There’s nothing conservative about discrimination. That’s why Rudy Oeftering, a successful business owner and lifelong Republican, is urging members of his party to back common sense non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people in his home state of Texas, and around the country. Rudy first shared his story with Texas Wins, an effort to protect all Texans from discrimination.
“I’ve been an active lifelong Republican… but many only see the caricature that all Republicans are anti-gay. Well that simply isn’t true.” Rudy explains.
In fact, as an out gay man, Rudy has held many leadership roles within his party and has worked to convince his party to embrace gay and transgender people—something he argues is in line with conservative values.
“I was the first openly gay chairman of one of the most effective conservative organizations in Texas, the Texas Association of Business and State Chamber of Commerce in 2012. My conservative street cred is real and reputation unchallenged because of my pro-business record and efforts to help elect fiscal conservatives.”
Previously, Rudy has used his reputation as a pro-business conservative to try to change the state party platform to be more inclusive of LGBT people. In doing so, Rudy found that many in his party were not only willing, but overjoyed that fellow conservatives were ready to move the party forward.
“Literally hundreds of people came up to us and said ‘I’m so glad someone is finally saying something about moving the ball on this issue.”
Rudy isn’t surprised that more and more conservatives are beginning to embrace evidence based non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people, in part because it’s good for business and good for the economy. And Rudy should know. As the business owner of Oeftering Property Management, a successful real estate management company, Rudy understands all too well that there is a lot to be gained from ensuring that all people—no matter who they are or whom they love—are protected under the law.
“For our state to continue to be successful, we must continue to be a competitive state, to do that we also must be a place where people will want to move. Businesses like a fair and inclusive environment. People vote with their feet, their feet are coming to Texas. Texas is doing something right and we don’t want to jeopardize that.”
“You have talented millennials who are making permanent decisions about where they’re going to start their career and we want those talented people to come to Texas. We don’t want them to cross Texas off the list because our state is perceived as discriminating against their friends and their families and co-workers.”
Adding to the point about millennials being turned off by anti-gay policies, Rudy argues that if the GOP does not begin to embrace common-sense non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people, it will continue to push young people away from the Republican Party.
“I believe there is a dramatic shift within the Republican Party and that the opposition is dwindling.”
“We’re definitely losing votes, particularly with the younger people. All my children just don’t get why I’m a conservative. Their starting to understand a little better now that they’re seeing a shift in the party and my activity has accomplished positive things. There are plenty of Republicans activists that are fully prepared to move away from hostility toward our community and more everyday prepared to embrace it.”
Indeed, Rudy remains optimistic, noting that more and more, conservatives are coming around on this issue.
Rudy says, “I believe there is a dramatic shift within the Republican Party and that the opposition is dwindling.”
The more people learn about gay and transgender people, and realize they’re not so different after all, the more they grow to support fair minded inclusive non-discrimination protections.
And that’s a good thing, because, as Rudy points out, the more our society has viewed our differences as an asset not a liability, the more our states and our nation have grown. That’s why Rudy hopes that by continuing to highlight the stories of gay and transgender people, we can continue to build support for a more welcoming and inclusive America for all.
“Look at the trajectory of who gets included in our society. Where in American history have we ever gone wrong by including more people and doing our best to treat everyone fairly?”