Log Cabin Responds to NGLTF Criticism on Connerly Honors
"We Are a Big Enough Community for Disagreement and Diversity" says Tafel.
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The nation's largest gay Republican organization responded
today to criticism from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on the
decision to give the Log Cabin Republicans' Spirit of Lincoln Award to Ward Connerly,
president of the American Civil Rights Institute and member of the
University of California Board of Regents, at the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention
in Dallas on August 15, 1998. Mr. Connerly was the founder of the 1996
California Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209) which ended race and
gender-based preferences in public employment, contracting and education in
California. NGLTF criticized Log Cabin's decision based on its own
long-standing support of affirmative action, and feared that the award
would "divide our community by race and sexual orientation."
"We honor the rich diversity of opinion in the gay and lesbian movement, and in that spirit we respect NGLTF's views on Proposition 209," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "We are a big enough community for disagreement and diversity, and our organizations have a fundamental disagreement on this particular issue. Log Cabin believes that individual merit must be the sole criterion by which all Americans are to be judged, and that race, gender and sexual orientation must never be a basis by which Americans are judged in the workplace or in any other sector of society. Ward Connerly passionately shares this vision, and he has never shirked from defending it no matter what the personal or political cost to him from the left or the right. He is a personal hero of mine."
Connerly recently withstood intense public and private pressure from Governor Pete Wilson (R-CA) and GOP leaders in California to vote as a UC Regents board member against the granting of domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples in the UC system. Connerly announced his support for the measure early, and never wavered. He voted in favor of the measure, which passed in 1997. Wilson had made Proposition 209 a centerpiece of his short-lived 1996 presidential campaign.
"There are many leaders who say they are for equality for 'all Americans' and in the next breath begin adding exceptions. Just as he has not flinched in his activism despite the epithets and attacks from some on the left, Ward Connerly has never been afraid to denounce the hypocrisy of anyone who supports the ending of race and gender-based preferences while opposing equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. In our view, Ward Connerly is a valuable friend of the gay and lesbian community because he is a true believer in equality, a man who puts his own convictions above political considerations, and reminds us all of the meaning of leadership. It is for this reason that we will honor him with the Spirit of Lincoln Award."
"This is not the first time that two national gay organizations have publicly disagreed on an important issue, and it will not be the last time," Tafel said. "The Task Force and Log Cabin probably disagree on nearly every issue in the public policy arena today, but debate over vision, principles and deeply-held values is very important for the movement. Log Cabin will continue to stand on its beliefs and principles, and we view honoring Ward Connerly for his leadership as a positive affirmation of our values and our vision for the movement."