As if the conformity mafiosi weren't bad enough with their "gay Republicans are an oxymoron" trope, there has also been a spirited battle raging in the past couple of years – mostly under the radar – within the ranks of gay conservatives, libertarians and Republicans themselves.
At the center of the big shitstorm is Log Cabin Republicans, a storm that only intensified when LCR announced in 2004 that they wouldn't endorse George Bush for President and would instead spend $1 million
toward his defeat to "educate" voters on why the Federal Marriage Amendment was such a bad thing. (For the record, I feel those decisions were fairly sensible, despite the internecine warfare and identity crisis that they were bound to precipitate.)
Perhaps as if to reinforce the sensitivity involved, LCR's press release announcing those ads is buried on their website. Their press-release archive page begins only after that announcement was made.
The debate centers on whether Log Cabin should be primarily a gay group or a Republican one. The head of LCR, Patrick Guerriero, planted his flag squarely in the latter camp in a December interview with The Advocate: “Are we first and foremost a Republican organization, or are we first and foremost a gay organization with a role to play inside the Republican Party? The board and I made a conscious decision on the second, and that has affected everything we have to do and continue to do.”
It's against this backdrop that LCR reached out to bloggists to cover their 2006 national convention, which is underway in Washington, D.C. (Disclosure: I was invited to attend but am unable to travel this weekend.) Blog-pal BoiFromTroy is filing reports, as is MeetJustin.
The convention's agenda, true to the Guerriero interview, is heavy on gay advocacy and light on issues related to ways to support and elect Republicans who are more friendly to gay causes. This has prompted Bruce at GayPatriot, one of the most vociferous critics of Log Cabin, to issue a challenge to BoiFromTroy:
[I]f you find any actual Republicans at the Log Cabin “convention”.. please notify the media!!
I’m sure you will trip over the Gay Rights Pro-Abortion Lobbyist and the Neo-Liberal-Neo-Conservative-Neo-Confused Speaker many times, though.
BFT essentially concedes the point:
While the speakers have not been Republicans (sorry Bruce) they see a potential strong ally with Gay Republicans who can certainly do some educating among the members of our party.
As usual, I think I come down somewhere in the middle on this one.
I think advocacy is extremely important: Winning hearts and minds, whether among the public or among elected officials, is indispensable. But unlike groups such as HRC, which are at least supposed to be bipartisan and advocacy-oriented, LCR was established as a partisan, political entity supporting Republicans. If it ceases to function as such, it might as well merge with any of the other sundry gay-rights groups out there. (In fact, the Liberty Education Forum was established parallel to LCR to function as a non-political, 501(c)3, advocacy arm, putting LCR at risk of becoming doubly redundant.)
I do not expect Log Cabin to rush in to support people like Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum or Marilyn Musgrave, nor should they. But as a gay man who is deeply disillusioned with the current direction of Republicans, I would feel better if Log Cabin spent more of its time and resources at helping build a better GOP: recruiting and supporting more gay and gay-friendly candidates, working harder to build bridges on Capitol Hill, and influencing the legislative process.
Log Cabin Republicans was originally established to say, "We are going to play a unique role in the gay political landscape." Today, what they are more often saying is, "Ditto!"