Thursday, September 09, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: LOG CABINS & BUSH

While the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans -- an organization of gay and lesbian members of the GOP -- announced this week that they would not endorse President Bush for re-election, New Mexico's Log Cabin leader reassured state Republicans that he's still on board with Bush.

"As you know, while echoing Vice President Cheney in respectfully disagreeing with the Federal Marriage Amendment issue, I have continued to be a vocal and financial supporter of President George W. Bush and of Bush-Cheney '04," Pat Killen of Albuquerque wrote in a letter to state Republican honchos.

Cheney, who is the father of a lesbian, recently said, "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."

Killen, 24, said he has given a total of $330 to the Bush campaigns this year and in 2000, plus $250 in "soft money" to the Republican Party at a Bush event four years ago.

He was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in New York last week.

Killen said the bylaws of the national Log Cabin Republicans specify that state and local chapters don't get involved in federal races. "I strongly believe that President Bush must continue to provide his steady leadership of our nation in these times of change and challenge, especially in the areas of protecting our homeland, fighting the war on terror and strengthening our economy," Killen wrote.

But support by Bush -- and the Republican convention -- for the proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriages is the main reason the national Log Cabins decided to withhold support for Bush's re-election.

The organization also objected to a section of the Republican platform that Killen says condemns "any and all legal recognition of gay and lesbian families, including domestic partnerships or civil unions."

Killen said another reason for the Log Cabins not endorsing Bush was the GOP Platform Committee's refusal to adopt a "unity plank" that had been endorsed by their group as well as abortion-rights groups called Republicans for Choice and the Republican Youth Majority.

State Sen. Joe Carraro, R-Albuquerque, who was on the platform committee, said Wednesday that after discussions with the various groups, the committee approved a slightly different version of the "unity plank," which said, "As the party of the open door, while steadfast in our commitment to our ideals, we respect and accept that members of our party can have deeply held and sometimes differing views. This diversity is a source of strength, not a sign of weakness, and so we welcome into our ranks all who may hold differing positions."

Carraro said the Platform Committee believed that the main focus of the platform should be the big issues -- the war on terrorism and the economy. The committee decided to go along with Bush's wishes -- without a great deal of discussion -- on other issues such as gay rights and abortion, Carraro said.

"This was the platform the president wanted," Carraro said.

The Log Cabin Republicans, who endorsed Bush and paid for television commercials for him in 2000, say exit polls indicate that more than a million gays and lesbians voted for the GOP ticket that year -- including nearly 50,000 in Florida.

In his letter to the state GOP, Killen stressed that the national Log Cabin group is not endorsing John Kerry. He pointed to the official statement of the board that applauds Bush for his foreign and economic policies.

He didn't mention the part of the statement that said, "Log Cabin's decision was made in response to the White House's strategic political decision to pursue a re-election strategy catered to the radical right."

But in that statement, the gay Republicans also said, "Log Cabin also denounces the continued flip-flops on gay and lesbian issues from Democratic nominee John Kerry. Senator Kerry has repeatedly made clear his opposition to civil-marriage equality and has supported discriminatory constitutional amendments in Massachusetts and Missouri."

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