In blogging on my cross country journey, I commented on my meeting with Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. I had thought to offer a detailed account of that meeting and may do so at a later date, but given my propensity for long, essayistic posts, I believe a shorter one where I hit the salient points may better serve our readers.
First, the one thing that most struck me about Patrick was his decency. When we talked, he listened to me as I offered criticisms of Log Cabin, often taking notes, even jotting down things at odds with the group’s policy (e.g., my rationale for Log Cabin coming out against ENDA).
As I wrote ten days ago, Patrick is the first Log Cabin leader (in “the twelve years that I have been involved in the organization“) to meet with me and listen to my concerns. (He gave me a better hearing than did the leadership of Log Cabin when I presided over its fastest growing club in the 1990s.) Indeed, I would argue that he is the first Log Cabin leader to take gay conservative critics seriously.
While I found his predecessor Patrick Guerriero to be a nice guy with a polished presence, in the course of the New Orleans convention in 2005, that Patrick made several snide remarks about bloggers, clearly a reference to the criticism this blog leveled against his organization.
And it wasn’t just during the meeting where Patrick (Sammon) has listened to my concerns. I have e-mailed him my posts critical of the group’s decision to launch an ad campaign attacking Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney. In each case, he has replied, taking issue with some (but not all) of the points I have made–in a civil manner. In those e-mails, he showed respect for the issues I raised.
I still think he’s wrong on this issue, but at least he acknowledges the seriousness of my criticism, showing an understanding of the ideas undergirding my points, something which some of our frequent critics and even some of his own defenders fail to do when criticizing us in the comments section to our various posts.
Log Cabin does have a “brand name” problem. Many Republicans and conservatives see them as the group with “Republican” in their name while constantly getting headlines for attacking other Republicans. I asked Patrick how he planned to address this and the only response he gave was to note the work local clubs are doing to help elect Republicans in their communities.
That’s not enough. Given the national nature of this ad campaign — as well as the anti-Bush ads in 2004, Log Cabin needs to do something at the national level to show that they are dedicated to electing Republicans — and defeating Democrats. Perhaps an ad campaign attacking Hillary for misrepresenting her husband’s stand on DOMA in the Logo Forum. Or something to show how she shifts her positions with the political winds, works to silence dissent and prefers power to principle. (Hmmm. . . Kind of similar, but far worse, far, far worse, to the Romney they portray in their ad campaign.)
As I said in my post from New York, I think Patrick’s openness to criticism from gay conservatives stems from two factors, the first being his own personality and the second being the blogosphere. With this new media platform, we gay conservatives can more easily get our message out. And this Log Cabin leader seems to be listening.
Time will tell whether his openness to a broader spectrum of ideas than those offered in the narrow confines of the Log Cabin board will lead to changes in the organization. One can only hope.