Not many of us liberals are acquainted with the Log Cabin organization. More than just a coalition aimed at promoting eco-friendly houses, Log Cabin is an organization of gay and lesbian Republicans surviving within the GOP – think of a closet from which a handful of pearls and blue ties-wearing people would try to speak and participate into the conversation. It’s sad, but it exists, and right now, the Log Cabin members are suddenly feeling like someone is trying to put a padlock on the door.

My friend Rachael told me yesterday that “gay Republicans are like feminist Palin voters – it just doesn’t make any sense”. It does defy the rules of logic, but it still exists, and has to be addressed. The Log Cabin mission statement explains that they are “the nation’s only organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans.” The keyword here is “only”, as they are painfully aware that no other place will ever be given to them. Insisting on the fact they are “loyal” Republicans, it feels like the Log Cabin members are constantly under the gun and forced to justify their political beliefs, in appearance so far away from the social agenda Republicans have been enforcing during their years in office. It can sure feel awkward to show up with your lifelong partner at the Republican National Convention while Ann Coulter is speaking.  A little like cabin fever maybe? For several former Log Cabin policy directors and current Republican officials, the cabin is staying a little too isolated from civilization and failing to take the matters into its own proverbial hands: exposure is lacking, while gay Republicans are wondering if they will still have a place – and a membership card – the day after. What Log Cabin intends to do, still according to their website, is to “change the hearts and minds” across the board and act as a buffer between the Republican Party and the lesbian/gay community (we noticed they safely set the bisexuals and transgendered out of their discourse, perhaps out of republican political correctness). They set to “educate” (in their own words) mainstream Republicans in the gay and lesbian world, and extend a conservative hand towards members of the gay and lesbian community to spread the word that not just Democrats can be inclusive. However, it feels like Log Cabin is being a victim of its own politics: rejected on both sides.

from the Log Cabin website: as long as there is hope...

from the Log Cabin website: as long as there is hope...

Chris Barron, a former political director for Log Cabin, explained: “A lot of folks who care a lot about the direction that this party is headed in … are seriously concerned about the lack of a voice for gay Republicans in the party right now”.  Jimmy LaSalvia goes even further: “We’re looking at a political landscape where gay Republicans aren’t represented”.  Indeed, for the general public, a gay republican is an absurd oxymoron. Currently Log Cabin is planning a convention… with no full-time staff.  Both LaSalvia and Barron were denied their application for presidency, amidst a rumour that a wealthy gay Democrat donor was behind the organization’s funds. Tim Gill would have contributed as much as $250,000 in the last two years, but this was never officially confirmed. Barron is currently considering creating another gay Republican organization to speak out on “issues that gay Republicans care about, because no one else is”. The intense feeling of rejection is hard to conceal even from the best practised rethoric.

Rich Tafel is more simple in his approach to Log Cabin. A firm believer in the organization’s appeal within the GOP, he is also realistic when it comes to the current climate. “I think inclusion wins and the party needs to come to grips that their strategies won’t work,” he said. “But I’m not sure the party is ready to listen and will likely need to suffer further defeats before it re-brands itself in a more inclusive way.” So is Log Cabin not strong enough as a Republican group, or is it too Republican for its gay affiliations? Tafel continues: “my sense is that those starting a new entity feel that Log Cabin hasn’t been loyal enough within the GOP. My analysis is the other way. I think that it is important to challenge the party because the failure to be an inclusive party will destroy it.”

Challenging the more extreme vision of the Republican Party is something that gay Republicans are accustomed to doing. On March 11 they asked for the chair of the National Republican Committee, Steve Steele, to go back on his anti-gay remarks that homosexuality was a choice one could go against. Steele added in GQ magazine that he would not personally support gay marriage, but recognized that each state was free to make a decision in the matter, and that Proposition 8 should never be made into a constitutional amendment. Obviously Log Cabin pulled some influence as Steele has made himself a reputation being profoundly and obnoxiously against gay marriage; as lieutenant governor of Maryland, he tried to pass measures banning gay marriage, and when asked on the Mike Gallagher radio show whether the party would support civil unions, Steele responded: “what, are you crazy?”

Barron criticized Log Cabin for not issuing a statement regarding what he felt as “the most groundbreaking interview in the history of the RNC.” “I think it speaks volumes about what direction the organization is heading in,” Barron said. “They have absolutely no problem unloading on Republicans when they disagree with something Republicans have said, but are unfortunately mum at this point.” He and LaSalvia issued a statement in GQ out of respect for the other gay Republicans who he feels should “have a voice”, while Log Cabin is standing out for being remarkably prudent, perhaps wrongly so. Whether Barron and LaSalvia will find a home away from home anytime soon is unclear, as Log Cabin’s purpose is currently being reworked – hopefully not to the will of Steele and his cohorts of “non-inclusive” RNC leaders. Is there really a place for gay people in the Republican Party? Is the GOP willing to recognize that even within its ranks lie those they seek to deceive on a daily basis? The seeds for change are already planted – let’s hope the Republican Party will one day see the light of spring and let them grow.


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