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Sunday, March 3, 2013

MARGINALIZED BY THEIR OWN PARTY AND LIBERAL GAY GROUPS, LOG CABIN REPUBLICANS TRUDGE ON

CAGOP CONVENTION | For gay conservatives, the Republican Party is something like, No Party For Gay Old Men.

At the party’s state convention this weekend, the Log Cabin Republicans met in a small room tucked far away from the party’s more mainstream groups. But it’s a matter of perspective, for them, a tidy group ostracized for their private lives within the party, despite their bedrock conservative beliefs. Just being recognized by the party is huge step forward. And following a weekend full of rhetoric calling for a new found focus on inclusion, rather than exclusion, gay Republicans are hopeful for a seat at the table.

Now, if they could only get the same respect from gays and lesbians on the other side of the political spectrum.

“We get treated better in the party than we do in the LGBT community,” said Brad Torgan, secretary of the Los Angeles County Republican Party and a former candidate last year in the 50th Assembly District in West Hollywood.

Shane Patrick Connolly agrees and says social conservatives, especially women’s groups, treat him better than liberals, who share the same side of the critical issue of marriage equality. “They will say, ‘We’ve always loved you and respected you and we don’t care about the other stuff,’ whereas, I’ll get yelled at by people in the gay community.”

Connolly, who works in San Jose Councilman Johnny Khamis’s office, as chief of staff, admits it is not easy being a Republican in a cause viewed by most as a tent pole of progressive ideology. “You build up a sense of humor being a Log Cabin Republican,” he said.

Before Log Cabin Republicans can begin entering into coalitions with other conservatives in the party, it first needs to gain official acceptance as a chartered group. Currently, the state party’s bylaws prohibit chartered groups based upon sexual preference. Party rules also state prospective caucuses must have 10 statewide chapters. California’s Log Cabin Republicans only have four—San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego.

On Saturday, the group’s leadership says it will target Fresno and the Central Coast for expansion and seeks to raise $50,000 for its political action committee in the next year.

Charles Moran, a member of the group’s leadership, says the party’s new leadership is not opposed to growing the ranks of its gay and lesbian wing, but, he also ominously noted, “If it doesn’t happen it will have to be because of a whisper campaign.”

Asking the women’s caucus to take the lead in changing party rules was suggested by one member. But, one of those women’s groups made news this weekend by tipping its toes in the never-ending, often innocuous debate of “legitimate rape.”

Of course, Log Cabin Republicans also want to reverse Proposition 8 in California, the measure banning marriage equality. If states with far fewer numbers of Log Cabin Republicans can approve marriage equality, why can’t California, asks Moran? “If New York can do it with 115 [Log Cabin members], we can do it with 1,500.”

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