GOP Senate Candidate Fong Clarifies Position on Gay Rights

Dan Balz, The Washington Post

October 28, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

In the closing days of the closely contested California Senate race, Republican challenger Matt Fong is scrambling to contain the damage from revelations that he contributed $50,000 in leftover campaign funds to one of the country's leading opponents of gay rights and abortion rights.

News of the contribution to the California-based Traditional Values Coalition, headed by the Rev. Lou Sheldon, broke Sunday. Fong's opponent, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), charged that the donation proved that Fong was not just "out of the mainstream" but was "in the extreme."

Fong said, "I don't agree with everything Lou Sheldon does," adding that the money was designed to help push a ballot initiative opposing gay marriage which never materialized. He noted that President Clinton opposes gay marriages.

On Monday, the story took another twist. Fong earlier had received the endorsement of the Log Cabin Rpeublicans, a gay rights organization. Alarmed by donation to Sheldon's group, Log Cabin officials went to Fong and asked for a restatement of support for much of its agenda.

Fong took the unusual step of signing a document outlining the elements of the group's agenda that he supports, including legislation that would bar discrimination against gays for employment and housing and support for health and retirement benefits for domestic partners. "This was another way to absolutely clear the record," said Kevin Ivers, a Log Cabin spokesman. "If you look at what his positions are on the issues, his positions are as good or better than many Democrats."

Fong said he wants to unify the state and that leadership reflects the ability to find common ground on difficult issues.