Ho­mo­sex­ual Repub­li­cans feel­ing more ac­cepted for ’08

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Va­lerie Richard­son

DEN­VER — The Log Cabin Repub­li­cans had cause for op­ti­mism at their an­nual con­ven­tion over the May 5-6 week­end, some­thing that hasn’t al­ways been the case with the ho­mo­sex­ual or­ga­ni­za­tion.

But a num­ber of po­lit­i­cal trends ap­pear to be in their fa­vor. For­mer New York Mayor Ru­dolph W. Gi­u­liani, who leads Repub­li­can ri­vals in polls, has en­dorsed ho­mo­sex­ual rights. The Repub­li­can Party, smart­ing from the loss of the House and Se­nate in Novem­ber, is reach­ing out to more-lib­eral vot­ers, and Log Cabin­ers say Repub­li­can vot­ers seem will­ing to look be­yond so­cial and re­li­gious is­sues in search of a can­di­date to lead the na­tion to a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion in Iraq.

“It’s been very en­cour­ag­ing,” said Log Cabin Pres­i­dent Pa­trick Sam­mon. “Our theme is how our party can get back to its uni­fy­ing, core is­sues — lim­ited gov­ern­ment, get­ting spend­ing un­der con­trol, a strong de­fense and mak­ing the pres­i­dent’s tax cuts per­ma­nent.”

Log Cabin­ers say that’s the key to vic­tory in 2008. “We lost the last elec­tion be­cause in­de­pen­dents voted for Democrats in a way that they hadn’t in prior elec­tions,” said Mr. Sam­mon. “The way to get them back isn’t to fo­cus on di­vi­sive so­cial is­sues.”

Echo­ing that sen­ti­ment was the key­note speaker, for­mer Sen. Alan K. Simp­son, Wy­oming Repub­li­can, who told the gath­er­ing of about 200 that the party may have had its fill of plat­forms em­pha­siz­ing so­cial is­sues such as abor­tion and ho­mo­sex­ual “mar­riage.”

“We’re shak­ing some of the goofies and za­nies out of the trees,” Mr. Simp­son said.

He also en­cour­aged the Log Cabin mem­bers to re­main ac­tive in the party. “Don’t be im­pa­tient. Stay in the party. Don’t leave, be­cause you can change it,” Mr. Simp­son said.

While the Log Cabin group does not ex­pect to make a for­mal en­dorse­ment, there was lit­tle doubt their hearts were with Mr. Gi­u­liani. His were the only but­tons and bumper stick­ers vis­i­ble at the con­ven­tion. At the same time, mem­bers said they were wor­ried that Mr. Gi­u­liani may be feel­ing pres­sure from the party’s con­ser­va­tive wing.

“Main­stream Repub­li­can vot­ers and mod­er­ate vot­ers are go­ing to vote for you. Don’t tilt to the right,” said Frank Ric­chi­azzi, one of the group’s founders, who was wear­ing an “I Love Rudy” but­ton on his lapel.

Al­though Mr. Gi­u­liani has backed off some in re­cent months — crit­i­ciz­ing New Hamp­shire’s re­cent pas­sage of ho­mo­sex­ual civil unions — he has a long record of pro-homo- sex­ual stances and has said “I’m pro-gay rights.” As New York mayor, he pushed through a do­mes­tic-part­ners bill that cov­ered same-sex cou­ples, and he had open ho­mo­sex­u­als in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The group heard from an un­ex­pected speaker in for­mer Rep. Pat Toomey, Penn­syl­va­nia Repub­li­can, the staunch con­ser­va­tive who nar­rowly lost to Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2004 Se­nate pri­mary. Now with the Club for Growth, Mr. Toomey ad­dressed fis­cal is­sues, which Log Cabin­ers say are the key to unit­ing the party’s con­ser­va­tive and cen­trist wings.

“We had been fierce ri­vals, so it was good to bring him here,” Mr. Sam­mon said.

Founded 30 years ago, the Log Cabin Repub­li­cans now count 20,000 mem­bers within 50 chap­ters. Their mem­ber­ship surged by about 200 per­cent shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Bush came out in sup­port of a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment defin­ing mar­riage as the union of one man and one wo­man, said Mr. Sam­mon.

What wor­ries Log Cabin­ers most is that the party will nom­i­nate a so­cial con­ser­va­tive, which mem­bers pre­dicted would en­sure the party’s de­feat in the 2008 pres­i­den­tial race.

“One of two things is go­ing to hap­pen: Ei­ther the party is go­ing to go back to its tra­di­tional roots, or an ex­trem­ist con­ser­va­tive will pre­vail and we’ll go down in flames,” said Tru­man Smith, pres­i­dent of the group’s South Carolina chap­ter. “Hil­lary Clin­ton would de­feat a so­cial-ex­trem­ist can­di­date.”

This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Man of their dreams: Ho­mo­sex­ual Repub­li­cans are wild about so­cially lib­eral pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Rudy Gi­u­liani.

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