Log Cabin Convention Rallies Behind President Bush
GOP Congress, White House and Cabinet Officials Host Log Cabin Leaders
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The nation's largest gay Republican organization met in Washington last week at its annual convention, and took its place as, in the words of a senior Congressional Republican, "a very important part of the Republican team," raising over $60,000 in Log Cabin campaign contributions for GOP candidates to kick off its fall 2002 campaign effort, and launching a print ad campaign in the gay press in support of President Bush's leadership.
The national and local leadership of Log Cabin Republicans met at key locations around official Washington April 17-21 for its annual convention – from the White House to House and Senate buildings to Cabinet offices and top Washington reception halls. In addition to plotting out top national priorities, Log Cabin was hosted at Bush Administration and Congressional briefings on a range of topics, and joined in selecting new grass roots coordinating leaders and welcoming three new national Board members to the team.
On April 18, about fifty Log Cabin national leaders, including Log Cabin Board and Trustee members, attended high-level policy and political briefings on Capitol Hill and at the White House with senior GOP leaders. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill hosted Log Cabin's senior leadership at a briefing in the Treasury Department, reviewing U.S. economic policy and the continued progress of private sector benefits for domestic partners.
At the White House briefing – a first-ever such briefing in a GOP administration for a gay organization – Log Cabin leaders heard from Mary Matalin, assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, who gave a political briefing. Lezlee Westine, assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, welcomed Log Cabin's leadership to the White House, while former Log Cabin Wisconsin president Scott Evertz, now director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, also welcomed old friends to the White House and discussed the President's accomplishments on AIDS policy over the past year.
White House Associate Counsel Brad Berenson reviewed judicial nominations, thanking Log Cabin for its support on the Pickering nomination and urging continued partnership. James Wilkinson, deputy director of White House communications, discussed message development and his experiences running the "war room" communications center during the war in Afghanistan. Former Bush campaign political director Maria Cino discussed free trade and the impact on small businesses, such as those in the gay and lesbian community across the nation.
Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee headlined a morning Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, saying that Log Cabin is "a very important part of our team" in the effort to retain and expand the Republican majority in the U.S. House. Joining Davis were freshmen Republican Representatives Rob Simmons (CT) and Mike Ferguson (NJ), both of whom thanked Log Cabin for its strong support in the 2000 elections as the first gay organization to endorse them. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), a founding member of Log Cabin's National Advisory Board, reviewed international HIV/AIDS policy as chairman of the Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) thanked Log Cabin for its critical financial and grass-roots support in the 2000 election – which he called a "near-death experience" after winning by a few hundred votes.
Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) hosted a meeting with senior Log Cabin leaders to discuss a range of issues such as anti-discrimination legislation, hate crimes and gay marriage. Log Cabin's leadership also met with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to discuss the deadlock over judicial nominations and upcoming votes on legislative issues.
Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, headlined an evening reception at the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue. Frist thanked the overflow crowd of Log Cabin leaders and activists for their support of Republican Senatorial candidates, calling for continued partnership between the NRSC and Log Cabin in the 2002 election campaign, adding that "we cannot win without your help."
On April 19, about 100 local and state Log Cabin leaders joined national leaders in an annual political strategy session ahead of the 2002 election campaign, focusing on Log Cabin's priorities for the fall campaign when most of its campaign activities take place each election cycle. After an extensive discussion, there was consensus that the top priorities of Log Cabin for 2002 will be to support President Bush's leadership and his Administration on policy issues, and to strongly back local, state and federal Republican candidates on the campaign trail.
Following the session, Log Cabin leaders gathered to raise over $10,000 for the 2002 re-election campaign of gay GOP D.C. Councilmember David Catania at a reception hosted by Log Cabin/DC, and then attended a reception at the home of D.C. Councilmember Carol Schwartz (R), where Log Cabin Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Andy Eddy, Vice President of Log Cabin Broward County (FL); Len Olds and Hugh Rouse, founding members of the Riverside County Log Cabin Republicans and among the longest serving Log Cabin activists in the nation; and Jim Wiggins, former president of Louisiana Log Cabin and the longest serving member of the Log Cabin national Board, now a Bush Administration appointee.
The receptions took place as a national Log Cabin full-page print ad campaign debuted in the Washington Blade and New York Blade, backing President Bush's leadership. "From Chelsea to the Castro," the ad says, "Gay Americans Are Showing Their Pride, In Our Nation and Its Leaders," against a backdrop of American and gay pride flags flying in gay neighborhoods.
"President Bush," the ad concludes,"Thank You for your Leadership in These Challenging Times," with a line indicating it is sponsored by Log Cabin Republicans.
"We have worked hard to be on the inside and part of the Republican team, and now we have made it," said Paul Wright, president of Log Cabin Michigan/Lower Penninsula, a member of the national Board of Directors and newly elected as the head of the Log Cabin chapter presidents' working group. "At the White House, on the Hill, from all the Republican leadership we heard that Log Cabin is on the team. As part of the Republican team, we have a responsibility to deliver and we're making it our top priority."
"We traditionally concentrate most of our campaign work, both funding and grass-roots field support, in the final two months of the campaign when we can make the biggest difference," said David Jackson, president of Log Cabin New York City, Vice President of the Manhattan GOP Central Committee, and newly-elected secretary of the Log Cabin chapter presidents' working group. "This takes months of preparation, and with the input from the national Republican leadership, we have a strong consensus on where we have to focus our time and money for the rest of the year, and that's on supporting our Republican friends, supporting the GOP and supporting President Bush, who has proven to be the excellent President he promised to be."
On April 20, the convention culminated in the annual Log Cabin Black Tie Celebration, this year held at Union Station. While the event raised nearly $50,000 in "hard money" federal contributions for Log Cabin PAC, the focus was on "celebrating the Bush Administration and the New GOP." Keynote addresses were given by Jim Wiggins, Log Cabin's national board secretary and recent Bush appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency, who spoke of his experiences in the Administration; and Patrick Guerriero, the subject of a recent cover story in the Advocate who was the first-ever openly gay running mate selected by a sitting governor in U.S. history.
Log Cabin Executive Director Rich Tafel also acknowledged all the Log Cabin members in the audience who now work for the Bush Administration, and all those activists who worked hard around the country to help elect President Bush in 2000.
"We have come so far in ten years as a Party and as an organization, and the GOP has never been more inclusive and broad-based as it is today," Tafel said. "We all worked long and hard together to get here, and we are proud to be on the team with President Bush and the Republican leadership. We intend to do our part at every level, and our people are very excited to get back home and get down to work."