Earlier today, Log Cabin’s National Board announced that it had selected interim organization head Patrick Sammon as its new President. While I’m delighted that someone other that Patrick Guerriero is heading up this ostensibly Republican organization, I’m concerned that the group’s new leader lacks any background in Republican politics.
While Log Cabin touts Sammon’s media experience and appearances in the biography posted on its web-site, it does not indicate that he has had any prior political experience, save his work for Log Cabin itself and its affiliated non-partisan educational foundation, the Liberty Education Forum.
Commenting on his selection, Sammon said:
Log Cabin’s mission is more important than ever before. I will provide a strong voice for those in our Party who believe the GOP can return to power by pursuing a unifying and inclusive conservative agenda that attracts voters from both the center and the right.
I hope that in coming days, he fleshes out what he believes that agenda is. I am, however, concerned that like his predecessor, he will focus more on appealing to the left-leaning gay groups in Washington, D.C. rather than to conservative and Republican organizations in our nation’s capital — and across the country.
No sooner did I receive word of Sammon’s selection that I learned that Joe Solmonese, president of the liberal Human Rights Campaign (HRC), looked forward to working with Sammon “for our community’s top legislative agenda.” To be sure, this may be just standard boilerplate, welcoming the selection of the new leader of a gay organization, but it reminds us of the past cozy relationship between Log Cabin and HRC. Let’s hope that Patrick Sammon doesn’t accept Joe Solmonese’s attempt to define our community’s legislative agenda and dares to differ from Solmonese on issues affecting gay people.
Indeed, if Patrick Sammon really wants to establish himself as a conservative leader — and to help return the GOP to its small government roots — he would distinguish Log Cabin from other gay groups by coming out against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). While he would make clear that he believes government agencies should not discriminate and that discrimination against gays is wrong, he would affirm the conservative principle that the federal government shouldn’t interfere with the personnel decisions of private companies.
Thus, by coming out against ENDA, the leader of Log Cabin would help define gay Republicans as true conservatives who don’t favor turning to the government to seek solutions to the problems our community faces. In not pushing for legislation which would ostensibly benefit our community, we can better stand up for the small-government principles which our party appears to have abandoned in recent years. Log Cabin would thus set an example for other conservative and Republican groups, encouraging them to follow suit in opposing legislation which would benefit their constituencies by expanding the size and scope of the federal government.
And Log Cabin would strengthen its case against those social conservatives who seek legislation to advance their pet causes, reminding that we seek to live our lives free or state interference and respect their rights to do so as well. Log Cabin would take the lead in promoting a true return to the vision of Ronald Reagan where individuals seek solutions in their own communities — and through private institutions — rather than in lobbying for state action.
While I am ever optimistic, I doubt Patrick Sammon will take such a bold step. But, perhaps, he will find some other way of distinguishing Log Cabin’s agenda from that of other gay groups and put forward a conservative vision on gay issues which accords with the principles of our party.
I will be paying close attention to his initial actions and statements now that he had officially taken the helm of Log Cabin. I hope that he makes an effort to reach out to Republican elected officials as well as conservatives leaders in the various think tanks and advocacy organizations in our nation’s capital.
He should approach the national gay groups with caution, recognizing that many of these groups’ leaders see their work as part of some broad “progressive” movement. While he should be ever cordial to these leaders, he must recognize that they are, by and large adversaries of Republicans, even gay ones.
Given Patrick Sammon’s media background, it seems Log Cabin’s board is more interested in playing to the media than to the GOP. I hope I’m wrong. While Patrick does seem to be an accomplished young man, his resume shows little evidence that he has the stuff to lead a Republican organization.
The test is not in his background, but in his actions. And while I am, at this point, skeptical, I will reserve judgment and wish him the best of success in his new responsibilities. I will continue to make my views known, both as a blogger and a member of Log Cabin. And will continue to hope, perhaps naively so, that Log Cabin can be a bold voice for conservative principles, the ideas of Ronald Reagan, as its new leader reaches out to his two audiences, neither particularly friendly to gay Republicans.
No wonder, in an e-mail to me, one reader commented that Log Cabin’s president has a “thankless job.” I recognize the difficulty of the task which lies ahead for Patrick Sammon. While I may be somewhat critical of the selection of Log Cabin’s new leader, I do believe Mr. Sammon is up to the challenge.
– B. Daniel Blatt (GayPatriotWest@aol.com)
ADDENDUM. Over at The Malcontent, Matt offers his thoughts on Sammon’s selections and the general thrust of his observations is similar to my own.