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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Log Cabins' Cave-in

In endorsing McCain-Palin, the Log Cabin Republicans blew an opportunity

By Steve Charing

In 2004 the Log Cabin Republicans—the largest Republican LGBT political organization—did not endorse President George W. Bush, citing his active promotion of the Federal Marriage Amendment and his using gays as a wedge to win re-election as the main reasons. That amendment, which died in Congress after two futile attempts, would have forever banned the marriage of same-sex couples.

During the floor debates, Senator John McCain opposed the FMA not because he believed that same-sex couples are deserving of equality, but that such an action was "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." McCain argued that the U.S. Constitution should not be used to codify laws that would normally be left to the states.

It was on that basis and the misguided belief that John McCain is "inclusive," that the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed the GOP ticket on the night the Republican National Convention kicked off its anti-Obama snark-fest.

The Log Cabins caved in perhaps to the fear of irrelevancy within the Republican Party, but in doing so, it pushed them off to the outer boundaries of the LGBT community. While the decision not to endorse Bush in 2004 was a welcome but easy one, the decision to endorse McCain-Palin was absurd.

"Sen. McCain has always shown a willingness to reach out and engage in dialogue with Log Cabin, while considering all sides of an issue," said Patrick Sammon, the organization’s leader in a statement. "We know that will continue when he is President." Of course he will, and if Sammon truly believes that, I have some mountains in Florida I’d like to sell him.

How can a prominent gay organization vote against the interests of its own constituency?

Although John McCain bucked his party to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment when it was a given it would fail anyway, the 2008 version of John McCain did not "stand up" to the Republicans as they inserted the FMA plank into the 2008 GOP platform.

Moreover, McCain fully supports statewide constitutional amendments, including his own state of Arizona where he appeared on television to express his views. And he is a clear proponent of Proposition 8, which is on the ballot in November to undo the California Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

John McCain, for all his alleged inclusiveness, opposes Federal employment non-discrimination legislation and opposes a comprehensive hate crimes bill that would include sexual orientation.

Furthermore, McCain sees gays and lesbians as unfit for military service. He intends to continue the Pentagon’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy by noting the commanders on the ground will decide if a change in policy is needed. (Memo to McCain: it is the duty of the Commander-in-Chief to map out policy for the commanders to follow.)

His new celebrity running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, offers precious little hope for LGBT equality and justice. She opposed domestic partner benefits for Alaska’s state employees. Her church promotes reparative therapy for gays, which has been proven to be harmful both physically and mentally.

"You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed since she was a child.

"I think gay Republicans are going to run away" if Palin supports the "pray away the gay" movement, said Wayne Besen, founder of the New York-based Truth Wins Out, a gay rights advocacy group. Now that she’s a candidate for vice-president, it is important to flush out her views.

Knowing all this, the Log Cabin Republicans board of directors remarkably voted 12-2 to endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin. In the press release announcing the endorsement Sammons defended the vote by pointing out that "gay rights issues are a critical part of the equation, but so are many other issues impacting our daily lives—foreign policy, the economy, jobs, energy policy, health care reform, and taxes."

The Log Cabin Republicans acknowledge their differences with McCain but are assuming the gay rights issues take a back seat to the GOP’s spectacular results over the past eight years. They can point to the record-breaking deficits and unimaginable debt, the boondoggle in Iraq, the faltering economy and loss of jobs, the energy and housing crunch and our diminished standing in the world as reasons to overlook that pesky anti-gay thinking and vote Republican. McCain was in lockstep with Bush over 90 percent of the time.

This was a missed opportunity for the Log Cabin folks to make a courageous stand and let the McCain forces know that they would withhold the endorsement unless the party changes its attitudes towards the nation’s LGBT citizens. But instead they apparently caved, and if McCain does get elected, you can be sure all the "conversations" the LCR promises to have with the new president will result in more of the same.

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