Gay Republicans Go to Iowa Caucuses
Des Moines Project Yields Three Openly-Gay Delegates to County Convention; Pro-Gay Resolutions on GOP Platform Carried to Next Round
(DES MOINES) For the first time since the Iowa Caucuses became the "first in the nation" presidential campaign test, gay Republican activists in Des Moines organized a successful effort to elect openly gay delegates to the Polk County convention and send up pro-gay platform resolutions, directly challenging the religious right on their home turf.
The project, led by local activists forming the Iowa Log Cabin Republicans chapter, focused on three precincts – DSM 46, 67, and 74 – in Des Moines. The activists mailed out 500 caucus guides to gay and lesbian voters in Des Moines, and worked with like-minded Republican caucus attendees in their neighborhoods. Each precinct elected an openly gay delegate to the Polk County GOP convention, to be held on March 4, and in Precinct 67, where Log Cabin and allied forces dominated the caucus, three pro-gay platform resolutions were approved with little opposition [see appendix below] and an openly gay Republican was elected to the Polk County Republican Central Committee.
"We know it is just a start for us," said Curt Stamp, an openly gay delegate and central committee member elected in Precinct 67. "But this gives a lot of hope to people who for years have not felt welcome in the Republican Party."
Log Cabin activist Fran Bailey was elected as a county convention delegate from Precinct 46, and was selected to represent her precinct at the GOP Platform Committee meeting on January 29. "Four years ago I came out at my caucus while speaking against an anti-gay marriage platform resolution," Bailey said. "The majority sided with me and the resolution was defeated. This year, platform resolutions were not discussed at my precinct but I look forward to not only defeating anti-gay resolutions, but passing pro-gay resolutions at the county level."
"Of the seven delegates elected in my precinct, people focused on past party involvement in making their selections," said Mike Simonson, who was elected as a delegate from Precinct 74. "Sexual orientation just wasn't an issue."
"In one of the toughest places to be an openly gay person, it was truly an historic night for gay people in Iowa," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "The project was a success because it proved that with a courage, focus and organization, we can make a difference where everyone had previous ceded all the ground to the far right. We began the hard work in earnest of standing our ground, block by block, inside the Republican Party in one of the most important states in the country. These activists have helped pave the way for increased efforts in 2002 and 2004, and building beyond these three first precincts to other cities and other neighborhoods throughout the state."
Log Cabin Republicans worked in Iowa with the Liberty Education Fund, a non-partisan educational organization based in Washington, and the Iowa Presidential Caucus Project 2000, a non-partisan gay and lesbian civic activism organization based in Des Moines.
Summaries and Vote Tallies of Platform Resolutions Passed in DSM 67:
1. Supporting passage of legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and urging Congress to pass and the President to sign the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (vote 15-3)
2. Calling on Congress to follow Iowa's lead and pass Hate Crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation (vote 18-2)
3. Calling on Congress to reauthorize and continue to fund the Ryan White CARE Act (vote 19-1)