In the twelve years following Log Cabin setting up shop in Washington, D.C. with a national office, its leadership did little to correct the false impression many gay people have of the GOP as a party whose guiding principle is maintaining straight while male privilege. Indeed, to some degree, it contributed to that inaccurate impression by focusing its attacks not on big-government Democratic initiatives on Republican politicians.
At the same time, the national office did little to convince rank-and-file Republicans of the organization’s commitment to conservative principles of limited government, judicial restraint and a robust national defense. That began to change in 2005, when Log Cabin signed on to support the Social Security reforms then-President George W. Bush was promoting. Not only did this show the group’s commitment to conservative reforms, but Chris Barron, then its political director, showed how those conservative reforms would benefit gay people.
Now GOProud, the new gay conservative group Chris spearheaded, is pushing for similar reforms, calling on Congress to include personal savings accounts in any Social Security reform proposal. Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia explains:
Personal savings accounts would provide gay and lesbian couples with the same opportunities as other Americans to provide for their retirement security. . . . Personal savings accounts are not just good for gays and lesbians; by creating wealth, empowering individuals to control their own retirement and improving the American economy, they are good for all Americans. [As] the property of the individual, they would . . . allow gays and lesbians to pass their hard earned money on to whoever they choose.
And as GOProud has shown how conservative ideas benefit gay people, Log Cabin has (finally!) begun to articulate a conservative approach on gay issues. In taking issue with Speaker Boehner on the constitutionality of DOMA, R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s Executive Director praised the Ohio Republican in keeping the focus on fiscal discipline:
Americans sent Republicans to Congress to address our challenging economy, and thus far under Speaker Boehner’s leadership our party has kept its eye on the ball, cutting spending and beginning to confront the deficit. Now is not the time to fall for the president’s ploy to distract Republicans with divisive social issues like the Defense of Marriage Act. . . . While Log Cabin Republicans firmly believe that DOMA is an unconstitutional intrusion on states’ rights and a violation of individual liberty, we agree with Speaker Boehner that the constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts, not by the president unilaterally. The Speaker’s decision to retain counsel through an administrative action ensures that the House floor can keep its focus on spending cuts and not be bogged down with unnecessary distractions. It is critical that Congress returns to work on the issues that matter most: jobs and the challenges facing our economy.
Importantly, Cooper has not joined the chorus of the left-leaning gay leaders in chiding Boehner for retaining counsel in this matter. Also note that, in contrast to the organization’s first two executive directors of his organization, Cooper, in articulating his differences with the House’s top Republican, also reminds him of the common ground his group shares with the GOP, the criticism thus surrounded by praise, a more diplomatic means to criticize your political allies.
That said, while Cooper has done a good job of speaking out on the fiscal issues of concern to all Republicans, on the organization’s web-page, he still identifies their GOP allies as “pro-equality“. It would be nice if he stopped using the catchword of the gay left and instead used the Republican language of liberty more universally.
Nonetheless, it is nice to see a Log Cabin leader daring to differ with the “official position” of the gay left not just in media statements, but also in media appearances as he did on, of all places, Hardball with Chris Matthews (h/t to Eva Young for that link (via e-mail)).