By Bob Roehr
WASHINGTON D.C. – The national board of directors of Log Cabin Republicans voted 22 to 2 not to endorse the reelection of President George W. Bush at a meeting on Sept. 7. The following day, several of the most prominent openly gay Republican elected officials,current and past, declared their support for Sen. John Kerry.
LCR was founded in 1993 but a predecessor federation of local chapters declined to endorse the first President Bush in 1992. He failed to be reelected. Its bylaws preclude Log Cabin from endorsing any candidate other than the Republican nominee.
"Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments," Patrick Guerriero, executive director of LCR said in a conference call with reporters. The decision not to endorse "empowers Log Cabin to maintain its integrity while furthering our goal of building a more inclusive Republican Party."
"There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and that fight is bigger than one platform, one convention, or even one President," he said. "We have made it clear that we can either be the party of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani or we can be the party of Alan Keyes and Rick Santorum."
"Some will accuse us of being disloyal," Guerriero continued. "However, it was actually the White House who was disloyal to the 1,000,000 gay and lesbian Americans who supported him four years ago." He castigated the President's support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. "Using gays and lesbians as wedge issue in an election year is unacceptable to Log Cabin."
"It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the President's support for an anti-family Constitutional Amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships," said Chris Barron, political director of LCR.
Guerriero added, "During the fight over the anti-family FMA, we sadly watched as the President and his Administration leaned on Republican members of the House and Senate to support this divisive and unnecessary amendment.
"We watched as the President's support for this anti-family amendment emboldened the forces of fear and exclusion to push anti-gay ballot initiatives and legislation on the state and local level.
"We watched as the radical right works to defeat fair-minded Republicans across the nation. We watched as the Republican Party Platform rejected our Party Unity Plank and included language opposing not only civil marriage but also civil unions, domestic partnerships or indeed any basic benefits for same-sex couples."
Guerriero also criticized Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry who "has repeatedly made clear his opposition to civil marriage equality and has supported discriminatory constitutional amendments in Massachusetts and Missouri."
LCR board chairman William Brownson said the organization will "shift our financial and political resources to defeating the radical right and supporting inclusive Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives." It also plans to open an office in California.
The decision follows an intense six-month process, dating from the President's endorsement of the FMA, in which the board evaluated the administration and consulted with its members. "The board made clear that it was not going to make its endorsement decision based just on one issue," Guerriero said.
"It wasn't just the FMA, it wasn't just what the President said in his acceptance speech, and it wasn't just the rejection of the unity plank. Quite frankly, Karl Rove and company made it very easy because they failed in each of those challenges to send a message that this campaign was going to reach out to all Americans. I don't think it was any one factor, it was the totality of the record."
Guerriero said that while the organization can only support Republicans, individual gay Republicans "can state and vote their conscience."
Republicans endorse Kerry
David Catania, a city councilman in Washington, DC and one of the highest ranking openly gay elected Republicans in the country, was among those endorsing the presidential bid of Sen. John Kerry in a Sept. 8 teleconference arranged by the Democratic National Committee.
Catania was one of the "Austin 12," a group of gay Republicans who met with then candidate Bush in 2000 and endorsed his election. He raised more than $75,000 for Bush's reelection earlier in this campaign cycle but broke with the President over the FMA. That cost Catania his slot as a delegate to the convention and a seat on the platform committee.
"George Bush made the promise to be a uniter not a divider but he took the hottest cultural issue in this country and divided the nation right down the middle. He did that for crass political purposes. This is not about partisanship, this is about preserving the Republic."
"I've come to believe that the 'big tent' is a big lie, and I've stopped fooling myself about it," Catania said. "There is no place for gays and lesbians within a Republican Party that is adversely dominated by Southern white men."
Catania also struck out at a Bush administration that has "turned its back on cities," refuses to raise the minimum wage, and is willing to allow the ban on assault rifles to expire. He said Kerry's record on gay issues was reason enough to support him.
Steve May, a former state representative in Arizona was scheduled to participate in the conference call as endorsing Kerry. However, he did not participate and the DNC was at a loss to explain his absence. They claimed that Chris Sebesy, chair of a county Republican county organization in Pennsylvania also is endorsing Kerry, and that others "will be announced."
"Let's be honest, people are very reticent to displace their sense of place," Catania said, acknowledging few other Republican names of those endorsing Kerry. "Maybe people know better at this point than to tell me they are supporting George Bush, but I have yet to run into a gay Republican who is telling me they are voting for Bush."