As I mentioned here Friday afternoon, earlier that morning I sat down for an hour with Patrick Guerriero, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. Due to the format and space constraints of this blog, I am going to publish the interview over the course of the next few days grouped by the topics we covered.
As many of the GayPatriot blog readers know, I have been a very harsh critic of Patrick and Log Cabin. Primarily for their decisions to run a $1M ad campaign challenging President Bush?s stance on gay marriage and their ?non-endorsement? of him last year. I also have been critical for Log Cabin not taking, in my view, a more public position of opposition to the outing campaign by Michael Rogers. Patrick addressed all three topics in the interview, but I wanted to start the series by first publishing his opening comments to me when we met for the first time.
So, this is Part One ? GayPatriot Meets Patrick Guerriero:
GP: Thanks for sitting down with me, I know it is a little unusual given what I?ve been writing?but I appreciate your time.
PG: I?ve grown up in the heat of politics for the last 15 years so to be honest with you.. when you?ve been on the Ku Klux Klan website, and protested by Fred Phelps and you?ve had articles written by your friends, good and bad about you?.you get a pretty thick skin.
We are dealing with such a serious issue, which is how we can resolve the nation?s anxieties about how to integrate gay and lesbian families into everyday life. In the midst of all of that, the healthy banter that goes on about whether you are making good choices or bad choices seems a little bit?not irrelevant?but you take it less personally quite frankly.
The other piece, too, is maybe its having grown up with, and respecting the role of the media and having been a mayor where you couldn?t walk down one aisle of the grocery store where someone didn?t attack you because there were too many kids in their kids? classroom or you didn?t pick up the snow fast enough?. I learned that the scrutiny, real or exaggerated, keeps people more disciplined and honest. And so, we know as this organization has dramatically grown the past few years in terms of visibility that it comes with a level of scrutiny that is natural.
I?ve sometimes counseled my friends on the Left that it is time we treated our not-for-profit groups that are fighting for fairness, as if they were corporations. People want to invest, they want to see measurable results, or they will go elsewhere.
And I think the difference between Log Cabin and some other groups is that we are proud to say that our goal is to go out of business. We want to not exist. Which is an interesting conservative way to look at it. We want to resolve issues of fairness for gay and lesbian Americans so that we can have the great debates about the War on Terrorism and healthcare and Social Security and those types of things.
Unfortunately for us, and its been aggravating to some of our friends, too often in the last year we?ve had to be in the position of defending the Constitution, defending gay families, having to respond to unfortunate flyers — some of them coming from our own party, unfortunate comments coming from Democrats and Republicans. That has taken us to a place that you and others have critiqued which is focusing on that piece of our mission.
And our mission is dual ? it is to reach a day where every American is treated equally under the law, or at least given the opportunity and responsibility to be treated fairly under the law. And, two ? to make sure our [Republican] Party is on the right side of history. Because too many of our friends who we agree with on so many issues happen today to not be where they ought to be [on gay issues]. Some of them for political reasons, and others because the gay and lesbian community hasn?t done the important work of talking to them. We are good [the gay community] at yelling at people who disagree with us, and we?re good at putting out press releases.
I guess the last piece of that which is something I don?t talk much about?.but the most important work that this office does everyday is not in the stuff you will see or the public will see, it?s the three meetings that no one knows about that occurred yesterday. It?s the conversation that I had last evening with a really, really conservative person who is trying to figure these issues out. There won?t be a press release, there won?t be a video. I respect that conservative enough that I won?t tell anyone about that by name.
If we do our job well, we have [those kinds of conversations] happening in Washington and, because we are a Republican organization we believe in grassroots ? the same exact thing is happening around the country. That?s exciting. And I?m convinced?our mission is that within a decade or so, this issue can move so quickly ? we are almost there today ? with almost 60% supporting civil unions. Then good Republicans can battle it out about Constitutional amendments, and how much money should we invest in the War on Terrorism and what the size of government should be. Which was the focus of my life up until two years ago.