Largest Ever Log Cabin National Convention Includes Unprecedented Lobbying Effort
Vice President Cheney and Speaker Hastert among Those Honoring Congressman Jim Kolbe
(Washington, DC) – Hundreds of Log Cabin Republicans gathered in Washington this weekend for the largest convention and largest lobbying effort in the organization's history. The convention included Capitol Hill meetings and a Congressional reception featuring GOP members of the House and Senate. The convention wrapped up at Saturday night's National Dinner which honored openly gay retiring U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ). The event featured video tributes from Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL).
Cheney said that Kolbe has had a "superb career" in the House. "You've built a legacy to be proud of and, as you are in the company of friends, I'm pleased to offer the nation's gratitude," Cheney said. Speaker Hastert called Kolbe a "strong and dedicated public servant in Congress."
Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero also offered words of praise for Kolbe. "Log Cabin has known no greater ally on Capitol Hill in our fight for equality than you. You have paved the way for countless young Americans...who now no longer have to fear that they have to somehow choose between living their lives honestly and pursuing a career in public service and in the Republican Party."
Congressman Kolbe called on Log Cabin members to stand up for traditional GOP principles both at home and around the world.
The National Dinner also featured former members of Congress Michael Huffington (R-CA) and Steve Gunderson (R-WI). Huffington pledged generous financial support to assist Log Cabin in advancing its mission.
During the National Dinner, former U.S. Senator and UN Ambassador John Danforth (R-MO) made a strong case against the anti-family constitutional amendment which Congressional Republicans vow to bring up for a vote again before the November elections. Danforth, an ordained Episcopalian priest, said, "Some historian should really look at all of the proposals that have been put forth throughout the history of our country for possible Constitutional amendments. Maybe at some point in time there was one that was sillier than this one, but I don't know of one."
Log Cabin honored Senator Danforth with its Ronald Reagan Award. Danforth also encouraged Log Cabin members to push the GOP back toward back toward the middle. "I believe that the Log Cabin Republicans... can be the heart of a movement to regain our center."
Log Cabin's convention, for the first time ever, featured a Member of Parliament from Great Britain. The first openly gay Conservative MP, Alan Duncan, highlighted successful efforts to transform the Conservative Party's stance on gay issues. He offered insights into how Log Cabin can create similar change in the GOP.
"This year's convention was unprecedented in the history of our organization," said Guerriero. "Our grassroots members from across the country left Washington with renewed inspiration and commitment to achieving our mission of building a more inclusive Republican Party."
Log Cabin's Convention marked the beginning of a year long celebration of Log Cabin's 30th anniversary. The organization will be highlighting and honoring the people who have been instrumental in Log Cabin's founding and success.
The Convention started Thursday April 27th with grassroots training of Log Cabin chapter leaders from around the nation. Later in the day, Log Cabin's lobby day included meetings with key members of Congress. Log Cabin members met with Senator John Warner (R-VA), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), and Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH), among many others. Log Cabin members also received a briefing from Jo Anne Barnhart, the U.S. Commissioner of Social Security.
Log Cabin members lobbied on a variety of key issues including immigration, tax reform, reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, the anti-family constitutional amendment, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and other important issues.
Log Cabin's Convention occurred in conjunction with the Liberty Education Forum's National Symposium. At the Symposium, openly-gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire called on gay and lesbian Americans, particularly conservatives, to come out in their faith communities. After his keynote speech, Bishop Robinson joined a panel of faith experts to discuss issues of religion and sexual orientation.
The Symposium also featured leaders of the Call to Duty Tour and the Equality Ride. Call to Duty featured gay and lesbian veterans touring the nation to highlight problems with the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The just completed Equality Ride had nearly three dozen young people visiting colleges and universities that discriminate against openly gay students.
Other Symposium speakers included award winning writer Jonathan Rauch; Adolfo Franco, an appointee of President Bush at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign; Neil Giuliano, President of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF); Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG); Abner Mason, Executive Director of the AIDS Responsibility Project; Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Pride Coalition; Toni Broaddus, Executive Director of the Equality Federation and Chuck Wolfe, Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.
The Log Cabin Convention also featured former Governor Jane Swift (R-MA), noted conservative Andrew Sullivan, Cato Institute Executive Vice President David Boaz, openly gay Republican Redondo Beach, California Mayor Mike Gin, former Log Cabin Executive Director Rich Tafel and many others.
"This amazing weekend of speeches, training, lobbying, and celebration highlighted Log Cabin's key issues and priorities," said Guerriero. "This convention and symposium presented an unprecedented opportunity for our members and allies to learn more about the key issues facing gay and lesbian Americans and the Republican Party."