Log Cabin Vows to Defeat Hefley Amendment in House
"A Critical Moment for the Republican Majority"
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The nation's largest gay Republican organization vowed to
muster as many Republican votes as possible to defeat an amendment proposed
by Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) which would roll back a recent executive order
by President Clinton codifying a federal non-discrimination policy in the
executive branch that sexual orientation must not be a consideration in
employment practices for federal workers.
"We will fight the Hefley Amendment, and we will be watching every Republican vote when it comes to the floor," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "There will not be a vote like this one in the House before the 1998 elections, and our entire membership will mobilize to fight its passage."
The amendment will be offered to the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations bill, managed by subcommittee Chairman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who is openly gay and has announced his opposition to it.
"In particular, this will be a test of how low the religious right will stoop, forcing a vote on a measure that is not only dangerous and wrong, but slapping the face of an Appropriations subcommittee chairman in the process in very personal terms," Tafel said. "There seems to be no limit to what they will try anymore, and it is time to put an end to it."
In a letter to House Republicans, Tafel called the vote on the Hefley Amendment as a "critical moment for the Republicans Majority."
"I cannot forsee a more crucial vote to my organization and our membership in this Congress than this one," Tafel wrote. "The time has come for moral leadership, if not from those elected to lead the Conference, then by the rank and file Members themselves. Words and rhetoric about tolerance is not enough. Indeed, there comes a time in every political leader's life when he or she can no longer pander to the lowest common denominator and must do what is right. This is such a time for the House of Representatives."
TEXT OF LETTER TO HOUSE REPUBLICANS:
Dear Republican Members of the House:
I am writing to you in strong opposition to the Hefley Amendment, which will be offered by Rep. Joel Hefley of Colorado to the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations bill. I will not mince words -- this amendment is not only morally wrong and politically dangerous, it flatly contradicts the stated values of the Republican Party and is designed merely to attack gay and lesbian Americans. I urge you not only to vote against the amendment, but to speak in clear opposition to the amendment among your colleagues and on the floor of the House of Representatives. I cannot forsee a more crucial vote to my organization and our membership in this Congress than this one; further, we view it as a critical moment for the Republican Majority.
You are well aware that Log Cabin Republicans has always been a staunch opponent of preferences and quotas and a defender of our shared Republican principles. Over 70 Republican Members of the 105th Congress have certified in writing that "sexual orientation is not a consideration in the hiring, firing and promoting practices" in their own Congressional offices. That is the core of the employment non-discrimination Executive Order signed by President Clinton that the Hefley Amendment seeks to overturn, which added a provision to an Executive Order first enacted by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and codified what is already in practice in every federal agency today. You will recall that in 1996, the Dole-Kemp campaign publicly pledged that a Dole-Kemp Administration would leave in place all non-discrimination policies in the executive branch which included gay and lesbian federal workers. As a Party, we Republicans have prided ourselves in defending the principle that merit should be the sole criterion by which every American is judged in the workplace -- no discrimination, no preferential treatment. The Hefley Amendment would violate all of these principles in the most sweeping manner ever attempted in the history of United States Congress, and for reasons that are morally and politically wrong.
The purpose of this amendment is blatantly clear. It is designed to pander to a narrow faction inside the Republican Party that cares nothing about our Majority and will stoop to any depth -- including the destruction of our Party -- to impose their extreme anti-gay views upon the GOP leadership. The so-called arguments in favor of the Hefley Amendment are a transparent veil that cannot cover the truth -- this intolerant faction is demanding that we make exceptions to the merit principle, that gay and lesbian Americans must never be treated equally no matter how meritorious they may be as individuals. The American people are not fooled. They can see what is going on here.
The flurry of recent anti-gay comments by senior members of the Congressional leadership have provoked alarm and serious concern among Republicans all across the country for a good reason -- these comments and actions are simply wrong -- morally, intellectually and politically wrong. Log Cabin Republicans has been labeled "perverts" and has been compared to pedophiles and the Ku Klux Klan by the leadership of the Texas Republican Party. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has said that gay Americans suffer from a disorder akin to kleptomania and drug addiction. A small handful of Members in the Senate have grossly and unfairly attacked the character and reputation of the pending nominee for Ambassador to Luxembourg, Mr. James Hormel, solely because he is gay. Every poll which analyzes the problems facing the Republican Party at the ballot box show a consistent trend -- swing voters fear that our Party is controlled by the far right.
And now we have this dangerous and sweeping proposal in the Hefley Amendment. It will impact every office, every agency and every department of the executive branch. Its reach goes far beyond the recent Executive Order. The time has come for moral leadership, if not from those elected to lead the Conference, then by the rank and file Members themselves. Words and rhetoric about tolerance is not enough. Indeed, there comes a time in every political leader's life when he or she can no longer pander to the lowest common denominator and must do what is right. This is such a time for the House of Representatives.
RICHARD L. TAFEL