It is now nearly ten years since I first assumed a leadership role in Log Cabin. Over this past decade, I have been both active in and critical of the organization. I have attended four national conventions, served as an officer of two clubs, one of which I founded, and talked with countless gay Republicans, gay conservatives and gay libertarians, most of whom refused to join Log Cabin. Indeed, many who refused to join were surprised at my activism and pleased at my decision to quit the organization.
In my conversations with such “non-mainstream” gays, the most frequent complaint I have heard about Log Cabin (and yes, I have also heard this from LCR members, many of whom have e-mailed this blog to say as much) is that it has failed to provide an alternative to the left-leaning national gay groups.
I was thus hardly surprised when Log Cabin’s Political Director Chris Barron refused to criticize NGLTF President Matt Foreman for suggesting democracy was immoral and by simultaneously pointing out that LCR Executive Director “Patrick [Guerriero] never comments directly on the opinions of other Executive Directors.” It merely confirmed what I had long observed about Log Cabin. In press releases and other public statements. LCR’s national leadership more frequently attacks Republicans than it does Democrats. And they never take issue with the national gay leadership, even while these groups are busy badmouthing President Bush and the GOP and misrepresenting the president’s record and that of the party to which Log Cabin ostensibly claims allegiance.
Log Cabin will not be able to influence the GOP if it does not publicly distance itself from the anti-Republican rhetoric of national gay organizations. To do that, it needs to take on those groups when they unfairly attack the GOP or otherwise show their left-wing stripes. Most conservative groups in Washington — and across the land — as well as many elected Republicans officials are familiar with the leftist agendae of these groups. When gay Republicans (as well as conservatives and libertarians) come out against their left-of-center policies and pontifications, they increase their standing — and thus their influence — with those on the right side of the political aisle.
Thus, if anything, this article in the most recent Advocate confirms how increasingly irrelevant Log Cabin has become. Instead of building bridges to the GOP, Executive Director Patrick Guerriero has been increasing his group’s “standing among liberal national gay rights groups.”
Indeed, although the word Republican appears in the very name of the organization, Guerriero told the Advocate:
Are we first and foremost a Republican organization, or are we first and foremost a gay organization with a role to play inside the Republican Party? The board and I made a conscious decision on the second, and that has affected everything we have to do and continue to do.
First and foremost, then, Log Cabin is a gay organization. It is interesting how Patrick chose to phrase that question — as an either/or choice. That is, either LCR would be first and foremost Republican or first and foremost gay. Why not, dispense with that “first and foremost” dichotomy and define this gay Republican group as a group which is both Republican and gay and so attempt to balance the tension that exists between those two groups, at least in the current political environment.
Had Patrick recognized that tension, in addition to taking on those Republicans who wish to regulate our private life, he might also be willing to take on those gay leftists who wish to regulate our commercial endeavors. Instead, since he first took the helm of Log Cabin, Patrick has dedicated himself to stopping “the infighting with other LGBT groups.” So concerned he is with this goal that he “instituted a new policy inside Log Cabin: If you speak ill of another LGBT group, that is grounds for dismissal.’” But, it’s okay to violate Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment and speak ill of a fellow Republican. (And LCR links to a tribute to the Gipper on its homepage!)
While the Gipper wanted all Republicans to work together on issues of common concern, The Advocate heralds Guerriero’s “bipartisan roots.” Sounds like he’s better suited to head the Human Rights’ Campaign (HRC) (an idea BoiFromTroy put forward nearly a year ago) than is its current leader. After all, unlike LCR whose very name defines it as a partisan organization, HRC’s mission statement defines its as “bipartisan.”
It’s not only Patrick’s bipartisanship which has gained him favor in gay circles. It is also his willingness “to take on fellow Republicans.” Indeed, former HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch commends him for standing up to “the profound failure of Bush.” Given the president’s mixed record on gay issues, it seems a gay Republican organization would instead be taking issue with those gay activists who misrepresent his record and call him a failure while pointing out his successes in numerous other areas, particularly foreign policy.
Despite the president’s successes, Bush-bashing has become the defining issue of the self-styled “progressive” movement today. As it has become increasingly apparent that most national gay groups see themselves as part of that movement, it is wonder they praise LCR for taking on President Bush. And no wonder LCR leaders have been so reluctant to praise this good man. They don’t want to risk losing the good rapport they enjoy with the Bush-hating gay activists.
When President Bush declared victory on November 3, he did something which made it easy for gay Republicans — indeed for all gay people — to praise him. So powerful was this gesture that HRC’s then-Executive Director, Cheryl Jacques (under whose leadership the group passed out “George W. Bush, You’re Fired!” stickers) took heart. She saw it as an “important symbolic moment” when the president included the vice-president’s daughter and her lesbian partner on stage. Patrick Guerriero, however, passed up the opportunity to praise the president for recognizing that a woman’s lesbian partner was part of her family. He had another chance to note this recognition when FoxNews showed Mary sitting with Heather at the President’s second inaugural in January.
Instead of praising the President for such gestures which help dispel the myth of his alleged anti-gay animus, under Patrick’s leadership, Log Cabin has sought to curry favor with the gay establishment, an establishment which harbors a strong animosity to the president and our party. I’m sure Patrick must be pleased with this article. But, given that the Advocate is very much a part of this establishment, gay Republicans should wonder at the cost of this puff piece. (In this excellent post, Malcontent details the narrow anti-Republican vision of the most recent issue which includes that article.)
A further sign of the magazine’s anti-Bush bias is their December 7, 2004 post-election roundup issue, the magazine’s editors “asked a diverse group of GLBT people to shed some light on this dark moment in our history.” Not only did the magazine’s editors call Republican victories last fall a “dark moment,” but they also failed to include any Bush-supporters in their “diverse group” of 12 individuals (two women authored one piece). Since approximately one-in-four gay people voted for Bush, if the magazine were trying to reflect the diversity of our community, they would have included three such gay people who voted for the victor in last fall’s election.
Perhaps it’s because the gay establishment so frequently excludes Bush-supporters that Log Cabin’s national leaders have been so reluctant to praise that good man. But for them, it’s business as usual to criticize the president. Indeed, in a statement last fall faulting Senator Kerry for making an issue of the Vice President’s daughter’s sexual orientation in a presidential debate, the organization made clear that it wasn’t just taking issue with the Democratic nominee — Kerry’s statement “shouldn’t distract us from the fact that President Bush, Karl Rove and other Republicans have been using gay and lesbian families as a political wedge issue in this campaign.” That’s right, they couldn’t just fault a Democrat, they also had to make clear they were at odds with their own party’s standard bearer (and his closest political advisor as well).
If Log Cabin is regain the influence it lost last fall when it not only refused to endorse the president, but also repeatedly attacked him during the fall campaign, it needs to build bridges to Republican and conservative organizations and elected officials as much as (if not more so than) it does to gay groups. Not only that. Log Cabin needs to change its policy vis à vis other gay organizations.
It should not be grounds for dismissal if a Log Cabin employee takes issue with another LGBT group. Indeed, it should be the group’s policy to take issue with such groups when they unfairly attack the president, oppose his nominees, support liberal policies or make left-wing pronouncements.
That said, Log Cabin leaders should make clear that while they disagree with that particular liberal policy (or pronouncement), they remain ready to work with gay groups on issues of common concern. And it goes without saying that they should never attack other gay leaders personally. That is, LCR should strive to work with gay organizations as much as possible, taking issue with them as the situation warrants.
There are many gay groups, most of whom have strong ties to non-gay left-wing organizations and the Democratic party, its leaders and elected officials. Log Cabin is the only national gay Republican group. It compromises its Republican principles if its executive director refuses to comment on the left-wing opinions of other LGBT Executive Directors. And it loses its purpose if it has stronger ties to “national gay rights’ groups” than it does to the Republican White House.
If Log Cabin is to have any success, indeed, to have any relevance, it cannot be “first and foremost a gay organization with a role to play inside the Republican Party,” but must instead be an organization which is both gay and Republican and whose leaders understand that to succeed as such a group, they must appeal to both groups, even when appealing to one risks offending the leaders (and “membership”) of the other. Until it does that, it will continue to disappoint those Republican, conservative and libertarian gays who seek an alternative to the liberals views of the “gay street establishment.”
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com