There are far fewer openly gay or lesbian people at the Republican National Convention in New York City than were at the Democratic counterpart in Boston, but gay issues are being played up to a much greater extent, though often in the negative.
The draft party platform strongly supports the Federal Marriage Amendment and sharply criticizes activist judges for 'presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage.'
'It's absolutely outrageous, their language goes far beyond what even the president has asked for. This is an insult to fair-minded Republicans,' said Christopher Barron, political director of Log Cabin Republicans.
LCR understood the futility of trying to change the language of that plank, so it tried to soften the edges by joining with other moderate groups to urge adoption of a 'unity plank' to 'recognize and respect that Republicans of good faith may not agree with all of the planks in the party's platform.' It got nowhere.
Log Cabin upped the ante at an Aug. 30 news conference where it launched a 30-second television commercial urging an inclusive approach. It will be broadcast in New York during the convention and on cable nationwide.
It opens with a clip from Ronald Reagan at the 1992 Convention saying, 'Whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.' The ad contrasted that to the intolerant social agenda pushed by Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan and Rick Santorum.
'Why would the GOP focus on issues that divide not just rank and file Republicans, but also the two leaders of our partythe President and Vice-President?' asked LCR executive director Patrick Guerriero.
'In recent months, the party's agenda has been set by the radical right. They divided party leaders by starting a culture war and pushing the anti-family Federal Marriage Amendment. Enough is enough. It is time for someone to challenge the radical right. Log Cabin proudly accepts that challenge.'
'Our effort to take back this party from the radical right is about more than one election, one president, or one issue,' Guerriero said. 'History, common decency, and fairness are on our side.'
About 50 openly gay delegates and alternates are at the convention in New York, as compared with five times that number at the Democratic convention in Boston.
D.C. City Councilman David Catania, one of the highest ranking openly gay elected Republicans, is not one of them. He was one of the dozen gays and lesbians who met with then candidate Bush during the 2000 campaign, and last year he raised over $75,000 for the President's reelection.
But Bush's endorsement of the FMA led him to break with Bush. The local party chairman pulled him from the delegation when Catania said he would work against Bush's reelection.
'I have had my fill of George W. Bush's definition of compassion and of his efforts to divide us. As a gay person, I have been insulted and assaulted by this administration,' Catania wrote in an Aug. 27 column in the Washington Blade.
'This year I will be supporting John Kerry ... . I believe that Senator Kerry's record will perhaps wanting in some respects, is far superior to President Bush's on issues that matter to me.'
Log Cabin Republicans will be making its decision on endorsing or not endorsing Bush's reelection soon after the Convention concludes. Many believe that is will not endorse the candidate, much as it did with the first President Bush's reelection in 1992.