Gay Republicans seek recognition

Maria Hinojosa, CNN

August 30, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

NEW YORK (CNN) – These days, it seems as if it is good politics for conservatives to address the annual convention of gay Republicans.

"Keep pushing the Republican Party because you're pushing it in the right direction," New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Log Cabin Republican convention over the weekend.

That is a far cry from the 1992 Republican convention, when the party's far right wing attacked the gay community.

"Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history," said Pat Buchanan at the 1992 GOP convention.

The convention crowds responded with enthusiasm. But now, some Republican candidates are taking a less confrontational approach.

"There is a place in the party for a lot of people from all walks of life and I hope they support my candidacy," said Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the current front-runner for the 2000 GOP nomination.

Gay Republican may sound like an oxymoron but it is not, according to the Log Cabin Republicans.

"There are many false stereotypes about gays and lesbians in America and one of those is that we are all liberal Democrats," said Steve May, a Republican member of the Arizona Legislature.

May is the other face of gay America, the conservative, we-look-just-like-you face of the members of the Log Cabin Republicans.

"Overall, it is much more of that we want to be included, and we want someone to stand up to people demonizing in our party," said Rich Tafel of the Log Cabin Republicans.

But another gay political advocate says that is too little to ask for from the Republican Party and from a candidate like Bush, who still supports anti-sodomy laws.

"I think in the past they wouldn't take our money and they would insult us to our face. I think going forward they're going to take our money and their going keep insults quiet, but their policies have to change," said Matt Foreman, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay advocacy group in New York.

According to several polls, gays and lesbians make up about 5 percent of the national electorate. The Log Cabin Republicans claim one out of every three of those gay voters is a Republican. As more gays and lesbians become a more open part of American society, the challenge will be to see how politicians on both side of the aisle try to appeal to those voters.