Gay Republicans hold national meeting in Dallas

By Michelle Mittelstadt, Associated Press Writer

August 14, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(AP, WASHINGTON) – Undeterred by Texas Republicans' snub of their group at the state GOP convention in June, the nation's largest organization of gay Republicans is holding its annual gathering in Dallas this weekend.

The Log Cabin Republicans' national conclave comes just two months after its Texas chapter was denied a booth at the GOP state convention in Fort Worth and likened to the Ku Klux Klan by a Texas Republican Party spokesman.

"We don't allow pedophiles, transvestites or cross-dressers, either," GOP spokesman Robert Black said in explaining the decision.

Days after Black's comments sparked controversy, national Republican leaders found themselves grappling with the socially and politically freighted topic when Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott equated homosexuality with alcoholism, kleptomania and sexual addiction.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey rushed to Lott's defense, saying the Bible considers homosexuality a sin.

That message was underscored by conservative groups in a national newspaper advertising campaign highlighting Lott's comments and urging gays and lesbians to abandon homosexuality.

The Log Cabin Republicans, who are meeting Friday and Saturday in a downtown Dallas hotel not far from Armey's congressional district, are energized by the recent flareups in Texas and Washington, said the organization's spokesman.

Dallas was chosen as the group's convention site a year ago. "But it is all the more meaningful for what happened in Fort Worth," Kevin Ivers said Thursday. "It's a reminder of what we are about and what we're up against."

As the Log Cabin Republicans see it, the GOP is potentially jeopardizing its majority in Congress with an anti-gay drumbeat.

If GOP leaders "don't shut down this wave of anti-gay attacks and the social conservatives dominating their agenda ... clearly we are not going to have the amount of (congressional) seat pickups that the party had said they wanted to have this year," Ivers said.

Republican moderates have voiced similar comments, warning that the GOP could lose its 11-seat House majority if candidates focus too closely on moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. The economy, education and crime are winning issues for the GOP, according to a Republican Leadership Council-commissioned poll.

Yet even as moderates push their priorities, Republican leaders have come under increased pressure from conservatives like Christian broadcaster James Dobson to hew to a pro-family legislative agenda.

Log Cabin Republicans came under attack this week from a conservative group that battles the gay-rights movement.

Americans for Truth president Peter LaBarbera is demanding that Log Cabin Republicans cease using Abraham Lincoln's name and image, offended in particular by the "Spirit of Lincoln" award being presented Saturday to Ward Connerly, who led the campaign to end affirmative action preferences in California.

"Abraham Lincoln would not have endorsed today's homosexual movement," LaBarbera said. "It's a ripoff of history and a great man."

The Log Cabin Republicans' philosophy is completely consistent with Lincoln's, Ivers said, noting that the president took unpopular stances battling slavery and taking on the "know-nothing" faction of his party that sought to exclude Catholics and blacks from political activity.