Thiel, the mogul who helped to found PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, brushed off concerns over his partys anti-LGBT platform
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel became the first openly gay speaker since 2000 at the Republican national convention on Thursday, just days after the GOP passed one of the most conservative platforms in its partys history.
Thiel, the controversial mogul who helped to found PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, to cheers said: I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American.
The crowd then erupted into a short chant of USA! USA!
The GOP platform includes a reference to conversion therapy and repeated statements in opposition to gay marriage. The platform committee even rejected an effort to mention LGBT people as victims of terrorism by Isis.
Thiel brushed off these concerns. I dont pretend to agree with every plank in our partys platform. But fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline. He mocked the growing concern about access to bathrooms for transgender people. Instead, he told the crowd: When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won. Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom. This is a distraction from our real problems. Who cares?
Instead, Thiel made a case for Trump as a fellow businessman. Im not a politician. But neither is Donald Trump. He is a builder, and its time to rebuild America.
Thiel is one of the rare Republicans in the Democratic bastion of Silicon Valley. A California delegate for Trump, Thiel had previously supported the 2012 presidential candidacy of libertarian icon Ron Paul.
Thiel has more in common with Trump than just a conservative outlook and vast fortunes they also share a prickly relationship with the media. Trump has banned a number of press outlets from his events and pledged to open up the libel laws. Thiel notoriously funded a lawsuit against the website Gawker in effort to shut the gossipy blog down. The website had publicly outed Thiel in 2007.
There have been two other openly gay speakers at the Republican convention, according to the Huffington Post: Steve Fong and Jim Kolbe.