Gay Republicans hear Carlson talk of tolerance

Julie Peterson, Staff Reporter, Seattle Times

August 16, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

In a meeting involving gay men and politics, you'd think John Carlson, who led the I-200 campaign, wouldn't be very welcome -- especially if he spoke.

But at yesterday's annual meeting of Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and lesbian conservatives, Carlson was given a warm reception and listened to intently as he spoke of tolerance and the future of the Republican Party.

Carlson described the party as being like a big tent: It should have room under it for everyone, and people should be tolerant of everyone instead of imposing their views on others – regardless of what side they come from.

"I think if you can't tolerate someone who disagrees with you on a particular issue, maybe the problem isn't them, it's you," Carlson said.

The Log Cabin Republicans of Washington supported the successful campaign Carlson spearheaded for I-200, which ended affirmative action programs in state government and education. But they also have gone against the GOP on the legalization of gay marriages.

The Log Cabin Republicans' role, says president Marrell Livesay, is to make communication possible between the gay and lesbian community and the Republican Party.

"We have a broad spectrum here," Livesay said. "The social liberals don't speak for me, and I want to make sure gay people know they have a choice."

Many party issues, including support for limited government, are part of the gay Republicans' views, Livesay said. "We may differ with Republican and some Democratic candidates in that we want to be able to serve openly in the military."

Livesay denied that the Republican Party doesn't welcome gay and lesbian Republicans into its ranks, and said he and his colleagues have always been treated very well at Republican events.

"I don't see the intolerance that others speak of," Livesay said. "I'm sure it's there somewhere, but I don't see it. I think the Republican Party is coming around to embrace gays more this year."

Part of that acceptance was the appearance of Carlson at the meeting yesterday.

"This was a great opportunity to talk with someone who is a known conservative," Livesay said. "We were honored that he'd come to speak with us."