During the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner Saturday Night at the New Orleans convention, LCR showed a short video on the group’s efforts in 2004. Among other things, the video included footage of a press conference held during last summer’s Republican National Convention where LCR announced the release of TV ad claiming that the GOP was focusing on issues which divide the party. Once again it struck me as odd that, just as Republicans were coming together to rally around their nominee, Log Cabin had been focusing on divisions within the party.
Of course, it makes sense for Log Cabin to distance itself from the president’s stand on the Federal Marriage Amendment as well as the GOP platform’s plank on civil unions (and other such planks). But, it seemed odd to use an occasion for party unity to promote and distribute a commercial which highlights their differences with the GOP.
Including that press conference in the video reminded me of the most frequent criticism this blog’s readers have made about Log Cabin. They cite such examples and wonder if Log Cabin is truly interesting in promoting the GOP.
At the convention this past weekend, I noted the relative paucity of Republicans on the panels. To be sure, former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato joined us at the Welcome Reception while former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman delivered the keynote address at the dinner (when Chris Matthews had to rush off to Rome to cover the passing of the Pope). But, these two Republicans are former elected officials. No current Republican elected official addressed the convention.
Only one panel, “Saving Social Security,” considered means to promote the president’s agenda. There was no panel or presentation on party building. And while there was a fundraising reception for LCR members running for office, there was no workshop (or presentation) devoted to promoting the election of Republicans to office. Indeed, if one looked just at the list of panels at the conference, one would hardly be able to tell that LCR was a Republican organization.
Moreover, a reader (who attended the convention) was “annoyed” by the absence of pro-life speakers and that some panelists had linked the right’s opposition to gay marriage to its opposition to abortion–as if they were thereby endorsing the pro-choice side in the abortion debate, a debate where gay Republicans are divided. While I was pleased that the leadership of Log Cabin included libertarians on at least one panel, that reader — and others — did not feel that the convention speakers reflected the diversity of gay conservative opinion.
It wasn’t just the paucity of Republican speakers which troubled me, it was also the failure of the convention to seriously consider the president’s record. While the president retained (in last fall’s election) approximately 90% of the gay and lesbian vote he received four years earlier and likely had more real gay votes (due to increased turnout) than he had in his first bid for national office, the convention (the first such LCR gathering since the election) did not consider why so many gays voted for the President despite his stand on the FMA.
I think Log Cabin needs to address the reality of the gay Republican voter — that most of us vote on a variety of issues, not just those affecting us as gay people. And on most of those issues last fall, we favored the president’s position.
The convention also failed to consider the president’s mixed record on gay issues. He has distanced himself from the party’s narrow platform on civil unions and in the third presidential debate, spoke out in favor of tolerance. He has said that that he wouldn’t fire gays. On a personal level, he recognizes the female partner of the Vice President’s daughter as a member of the Vice President’s family. Surely, when the gay media is constantly attacking the Republican president for being anti-gay, a gay Republican organization should tell the truth about the man, especially as the real story differs from that in the gay media.
Beyond looking honestly at the president’s record on gays, few speakers at the convention praised the president. They did not laud him for his leadership in the War on Terror nor for promoting the growth of democracy in the Arab world. Someone spoke out in favor of tax cuts, but he did not thank the president for backing such cuts. I understand that many gay Republicans leaders are disturbed by the president’s continued support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, but gay Republicans should be reminding each other that his stance on this issue is just one position, among many, that our nation’s Republican chief executive has taken.
Most convention-goers supported the president. Even some who did not vote for him acknowledged his foreign policy accomplishments.
Despite the convention’s failure to praise the president, Log Cabin has already taken a strong stand in favor of one of the key items on his agenda — his proposal for Social Security reform. For that principled position, LCR has already earned the ire of some in the gay media. I hope that this action where LCR has dared to distinguish itself from the mainstream gay groups will be a harbinger of other such bold initiatives where it bucks the gay establishment and take a principled stand for Republican policies which benefit gay people. And let’s hope as well that LCR dares as well to take a principled stand in support of our president who, while far from an ideal chief executive, has done much to promote the well-being of our great nation — and the world.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
UPDATE: Log Cabin Political Director Chris Barron e-mailed me to note that elected officials weren’t invited to the convention and wrote, “we are scheduling a Washington fly-in for this summer that will center around elected officials… the convention was about our themes of reaching out to the heartland, talking to people of faith, building bridges with conservatives, etc.”