Usually when I describe Log Cabin’s coming gathering in San Diego, I make sure to put the word “convention” in quotation marks. The reason I do so is that at most organizations’ conventions, the assembled delegates, representatives of chapters around the country, vote on the organization’s platform, policy statements, resolutions and/or other proposals to set its agenda for the coming year. And they elect national officers.
At the Log Cabin “convention” later this week in San Diego, we will be doing no such thing. There will be one session called the “Road Ahead” where participants will have a chance to offer “input about Log Cabin’s role in the presidential election.” But, the delegates won’t get to vote on that role. It will be left to the unelected Board to determine whether or not the ostensibly Republican organization will be endorsing the party’s nominee in this fall’s campaign.
As a result, “convention” participants don’t really have much of a stake in the proceedings. As they don’t really have much say over the direction of the organization.
Shortly after Log Cabin ran a series of ads attacking then-GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, we not only wondered who was paying for their ads, we also questioned why Log Cabin was running them.
Turns out we weren’t the only ones. I learned later that several club presidents (and other local leaders) were not happy with the ad campaign. And even though they represent the organization in various jurisdictions around the country — and are actually elected by their members — they heard about them the same time we did. (And like us, they too wondered who was paying for the ads.)
The Board approved the ads. Just as it sets the organization’s agenda. But, unlike those club leaders, Board members are not elected by Log Cabin members. It seems they’re a self-perpetuating lot, but I’m not really sure how they’re chosen as I can’t find Log Cabin’s bylaws on the web (though I did find the Bylaws of the Virginia chapter which I wrote back in 1997, though amended slightly since then).
Up until 1999, chapters (in regional groupings) elected half the Board. At a recent meeting of the LA chapter, I promised Board Vice-Chair Terry Hamilton to become a Log Cabin Trustee, contributing a minimum of $1,200 to the organization should they return to that pre-1999 practice. (I saw this here to show how serious I was when I made that commitment.)
While the past two presidents of Log Cabin have been more responsive to club leaders (even to organization critics) than was the national leadership when I held a local leadership role in the late 1990s, it is the Board which sets policy.
I believe Log Cabin would be better served if its “convention” this week were a real convention where delegates debated resolutions and policies, set priorities for the coming year, chose its national leadership team and elected Board members. I would be delighted to generously support an organization where the grassroots had a say in the national organization’s leadership and direction.
Until that time, it’s the national Board which defines Log Cabin. And not its membership.