Gay Republicans facing dilemma

And you thought Bennifer was a juicy story. How about George W.Bush and the Log Cabin Republicans?

“We stood with this administration on the war, we stood withthis administration on tax cuts … he wants to use our communityas a wedge issue to galvanize the conservative base,” said JohnPartain, president of Log Cabin’s Philadelphia chapter.

“Why use us to create a wedge issue for a constituency that helikely already had?”

Such is the dilemma of Log Cabiners, the gay faithful who helpedelect Bush in 2000. Exit polls then showed that 25 percent of gayvoters backed Bush, yet the relationship turned rocky last winter,first in Bush’s State of the Union address in January, then when hesaid in February that he would back a constitutional amendmentagainst same-sex marriage.

Bush’s position on walking down the (marriage) aisle doesn’tseem so strange to folks on the other side of the (political)aisle, but Log Cabiners never thought Bush’s turn would be sosharp. Now, they feel disillusioned, betrayed.

The group’s executive director, Patrick Guerriero – who plannedto join other political leaders at the National Constitution CenterThursday night in a panel discussion on the presidential election -has said he felt as if someone “had kicked me in the stomach.”

“We’ve had very good access to this administration …discussions on judicial appointments, the EmploymentNon-Discrimination Act, hate crimes,” Partain said, noting thatGuerriero has “personally spoken” to the president.

“There are more openly gay, high-level people in government thanin any administration in history. We really haven’t had a realissue with this administration.”

Partain acknowledged that same-sex marriage had been expected tobecome volatile after last June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision todecriminalize same-sex, um, sex.

But if marriage is serious business, so, too, is meddling withthe Constitution, Log Cabiners say.

Speaking as a “true conservative,” but sounding like a goodDemocrat, he expressed the view that same-sex couples are just asmarried as everyone else, and are good, taxpaying citizens, justlike everybody else. But, above all other points, he added,same-sex marriage is a states-rights issue, not one for aconstitutional amendment.

And Log Cabin is spending $1 million to make its case.

For the first time in its 27-year history, the organization hasproduced a political TV ad. The spot employs one of the GOP’sbiggest guns to spread the message, although he hardly is a willingparticipant.

The ad, already airing in key battleground states, features VicePresident Dick Cheney and his famous 2002 debate appearance when hesaid: “People should be free to enter into any kind of relationshipthey want to enter into … That matter is regulated by thestates.”

For fans of irony, this situation is hard not to relish: LogCabin Republicans take their inspiration from Lincoln, the man whoproclaimed that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” yetare faced with possibly breaking away from Bush, the man whoproclaims himself as a “uniter not a divider.” I’m sure that forLog Cabin Republicans, this irony has left a sour taste in theirmouths.

For folks on the outside? I’m sure they are enjoying this juicystory.

Debbie Woodell is a columnist and sports desk editor for thePhiladelphia Daily News.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune InformationServices.