Log Cabin Responds to Open Letter from Democratic National Committee

April 15, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Log Cabin Republicans released a response letter today to an "open letter" written by Jean O'Leary of the Democratic National Committee to Rich Tafel, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. Below are the full texts of the DNC open letter to Log Cabin, and the Log Cabin Republicans response:

FROM: Jean O'Leary, Chair
DNC Gay and Lesbian American Caucus

April 13, 1999

Rich Tafel, Executive Director
Log Cabin Republicans
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. Tafel and Log Cabin Republicans,

I was glad to hear that a prominent leader in the Republican Party has decided that gays and lesbians are fit to be employed in government. We always welcome the support of leaders who agree with us on equality. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't respond to your statement of last Friday afternoon.

Despite your hard work, it's plain the Republican Party can not come close to matching the extensive record of the Clinton-Gore Administration and the Democratic Party on behalf of gay and lesbian Americans. Under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, we have come a long way. As our leaders, the President and Vice President are committed to working on behalf of all Americans. I think a comparison of our records makes my case. Democrats support basic fairness, equality, and inclusion. Republicans perpetuate divisiveness, discrimination, and demonization.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have appointed the most inclusive Administration in history. Never before have we had over 200 openly gay and lesbian senior level White House and Administration officials including Virginia Apuzzo, Karen Tramantano, Richard Socarides, Fred Hochberg, Todd Dickinson, and John Berry. With the support from Democrats and help from a progressive Republican or two, maybe Trent Lott will call for a vote to confirm the first ever openly gay US Ambassador.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore deserve praise for their record of accomplishments and on-going commitment to equality for gay men and lesbians. The Clinton-Gore Administration has once again endorsed on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). This is the first Administration in history to endorse non-discrimination legislation protecting gays and lesbians and the first President in history to discuss discrimination based on sexual orientation in his State of the Union address. In a White House announcement last week, President Clinton dedicated increased efforts to the passage of HCPA and a public-private partnership to reduce hate-related violence in schools.

The Administration has countered your party's intolerance and its calculated agenda of discrimination. We have waged and won considerable legislative battles against an extremely anti-gay Republican majority--battles over legislation endorsed by Republican leadership. Fortunately, the efforts of the Administration were successful. With the Hefley Amendment, Republican leaders tried but failed to gut President Clinton's Executive Order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in the federal civilian workforce. The Republican-endorsed Largent Amendment, which would have banned adoptions by unmarried couples in the District of Columbia, was stripped from Appropriations legislation only because the Clinton-Gore Administration insisted on it.

This President and Vice President have taken unprecedented steps towards full inclusion of gay and lesbian Americans. To infer that Republican leaders have come close is wrong. Unlike the leadership of the Republican Party, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made a clear commitment to equality and fairness. The Republican Party simply does not provide that kind of leadership. Until your hard work helps Republican leaders cease the gay-baiting and gay-bashing and start talking about gay and lesbian equality, your criticism would be more productive directed toward your own party.

Jean O'Leary, Chair
DNC Gay and Lesbian American Caucus

April 15, 1999

TO: Ms. Jean O'Leary
Democratic National Committee

Dear Ms. O'Leary:

Thank you for your open letter praising Governor George W. Bush of Texas and the work of Log Cabin inside the Republican Party. I appreciate the tone of the letter, compared to the ways the DNC has chosen to address our organization in the past. It is not my normal practice to write open letters, but in the spirit of your message to us I would like to respond in kind.

As you know, Voter News Service exit polls show that one-third of the gay community has consistently supported Republican candidates for office since 1994, the second-largest share of minority votes the GOP has consistently won. This is a direct result of the work of Log Cabin Republicans in educating Republican candidates on the concerns of gay voters, leading more Republican candidates to actively seek and win gay votes. It has yielded tremendous results for our community, reinforcing the need for a strongly bi-partisan movement. We have been pleased to work with a number of gay organizations in this successful effort.

Much of what your letter enumerated as the record of the Clinton-Gore administration was familiar to me. We were happy to work closely with the White House on the Hormel nomination, as well as with important supporters such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), former Bush Secretary of State George Schultz and a number of other prominent Republicans. We were glad to play our part in gaining the support of Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) and the leadership of former Senator Al D'Amato (R-NY) in the confirmation of Fred Hochberg. We're also glad that Governor Bush shares our views on the principles involved in those important issues.

We were also glad to work with Democrats in the winning strategy against the Hefley Amendment, which was led by openly gay Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), who chairs a key House Appropriations subcommittee. We have been glad to work with Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) and Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) who have played a critical leadership role on D.C.-related issues of concern to our community in current and past GOP Congresses. We have been proud to work with Congressman John Porter (R-IL) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), who have consistently joined with the Republican leadership in funding critical AIDS programs at record levels, hundreds of millions of dollars above every Clinton-Gore budget request submitted since 1995. We have been pleased to work with Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, who rightly condemned the murders of Matthew Shepard and Billy Jack Gaither, and led other members of the GOP in denouncing anti-gay organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens. To us, all of this represents positive steps forward.

There is still much work for Log Cabin to do, but we have never lost the focus of our mission – to advance a set of core principles inside the Republican Party, advancing the cause of equality for all Americans including gays, and further expanding our community's political effectiveness across the nation by building a bi-partisan movement for the first time in our community's history. Because of our growing success, the disastrous shortcomings of the old one-party strategy are finally becoming history one step at a time.

As you have raised the issue of the Clinton-Gore record, there were many things I am also aware of which were not explained in your letter. I wish you had addressed the continued lack of attention paid by the Clinton-Gore administration to the spiraling crisis in AIDS treatment funding since 1995, and how every year the Clinton-Gore budget requests are submitted with woefully inadequate funding levels for prevention and drug treatment access. I also wish you'd explained President Clinton's unwavering and proud opposition to gay marriage, and why he has presided over the largest full scale anti-gay witchhunt and purge the U.S. military has ever seen with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy, passed under a Democratic Congress.

However, the important thing for us as a community is not to look back, but to look forward. Regardless of all the setbacks behind us, we all have a job to do because the 2000 elections will be critical for our community's future. Through our "Strategy 2000" program, announced in February 1999, Log Cabin Republicans has declared its unwavering commitment to hold every Republican presidential candidate accountable for his or her public statements and positions on issues of concern to our community. In addition to citing the Clinton-Gore administration's role in a number of bi-partisan efforts, I hope you and gay Democratic activists will hold Vice President Gore to the same level of accountability. The gay community rightly demands that of all its political leadership, and we hope you will join us in carrying out that responsibility.

We at Log Cabin don't believe there is any time to lose. Pressure must be applied to all the candidates in both parties now, not later. We would like to see Vice President Gore to take a break from the fundraising circuit so he can catch up to certain Republican candidates in stating his clear and unambiguous positions on gay adoption, gay foster care and gay marriage immediately – not through spokespersons, but from the Vice President himself. Furthermore, as he played a leading role in creating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, we would like the Vice President to clearly articulate now what changes, if any, he will make in his administration's current policy on gays in the military, and what his opinion is of the record number of anti-gay discharges have taken place under the Clinton-Gore administration. Unless the Vice President does this, how will you know how to most effectively advance the interests of the community in the Gore campaign?

As we all advance the best interests of our community with all the candidates, we can't operate blindly with anyone, nor should any candidate – Republican or Democrat – get a free ride on these issues. I hope you will join us in getting Vice President Gore on the record, while we continue working hard to do it on the Republican side.


Richard Tafel
Executive Director