GAY REPUBLICANS NOW "INSIDE" PART OF BUSH ADMINISTRATION
LOG CABIN REPUPLICANS [LCR]
April 24, 2002
"LCR met in Washington last week at its annual convention, and took its place as, in the words of a senior Congressional Republican, 'a very important part of the Republican team,' raising over $60,000 in LCR campaign contributions for GOP candidates to kick off its fall 2002 campaign effort, and launching a print ad campaign in the gay press in support of President Bush's leadership.
The national and local leadership of Log Cabin Republicans met at key locations around official Washington April 17-21 for its annual convention -- from the White House to House and Senate buildings to Cabinet offices and top Washington reception halls. In addition to plotting out top national priorities, LCR was hosted at Bush Administration and Congressional briefings on a range of topics, and joined in selecting new grass roots coordinating leaders and welcoming three new national Board members to the team.
On April 18, about fifty LCR national leaders, including LCR Board and Trustee members, attended high-level policy and political briefings on Capitol Hill and at the White House with senior GOP leaders. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill hosted LCR's senior leadership at a briefing in the Treasury Department, reviewing U.S. economic policy and the continued progress of private sector benefits for domestic partners.
At the White House briefing -- a first-ever such briefing in a GOP administration for a gay organization -- LCR leaders heard from Mary Matalin, assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, who gave a political briefing. Lezlee Westine, assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, welcomed LCR's leadership to the White House, while former LCR Wisconsin president Scott Evertz, now director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, also welcomed old friends to the White House and discussed the President's accomplishments on AIDS policy over the past year.
White House Associate Counsel Brad Berenson reviewed judicial nominations, thanking LCR for its support on the Pickering nomination and urging continued partnership. James Wilkinson, deputy director of White House communications, discussed message development and his experiences running the 'war room' communications center during the war in Afghanistan. Former Bush campaign political director Maria Cino discussed free trade and the impact on small businesses, such as those in the gay and lesbian community across the nation.
Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee headlined a morning Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, saying that LCR is 'a very important part of our team' in the effort to retain and expand the Republican majority in the U.S. House. Joining Davis were freshmen Republican Representatives Rob Simmons (CT) and Mike Ferguson (NJ), both of whom thanked LCR for its strong support in the 2000 elections as the first gay organization to endorse them. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), a founding member of LCR's National Advisory Board, reviewed international HIV/AIDS policy as chairman of the Foreign Operations appropriations subcommittee. Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) thanked LCR for its critical financial and grass-roots support in the 2000 election -- which he called a 'near-death experience' after winning by a few hundred votes.
Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) hosted a meeting with senior LCR leaders to discuss a range of issues such as anti-discrimination legislation, hate crimes and gay marriage. LCR's leadership also met with Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to discuss the deadlock over judicial nominations and upcoming votes on legislative issues.
Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, headlined an evening reception at the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue. Frist thanked the overflow crowd of LCR leaders and activists for their support of Republican Senatorial candidates, calling for continued partnership between the NRSC and LCR in the 2002 election campaign, adding that 'we cannot win without your help.'
On April 19, about 100 local and state LCR leaders joined national leaders in an annual political strategy session ahead of the 2002 election campaign, focusing on LCR's priorities for the fall campaign when most of its campaign activities take place each election cycle. After an extensive discussion, there was consensus that the top priorities of LCR for 2002 will be to support President Bush's leadership and his Administration on policy issues, and to strongly back local, state and federal Republican candidates on the campaign trail.
Following the session, LCR leaders gathered to raise over $10,000 for the 2002 re-election campaign of gay GOP D.C. Councilmember David Catania at a reception hosted by LCR/DC, and then attended a reception at the home of D.C. Councilmember Carol Schwartz (R), where LCR Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Andy Eddy, Vice President of LCR Broward County (FL); Len Olds and Hugh Rouse, founding members of the Riverside County Log Cabin Republicans and among the longest serving LCR activists in the nation; and Jim Wiggins, former president of Louisiana LCR and the longest serving member of the LCR national Board, now a Bush Administration appointee.
The receptions took place as a national LCR full-page print ad campaign debuted in the Washington Blade and New York Blade, backing President Bush's leadership. 'From Chelsea to the Castro,' the ad says, 'Gay Americans Are Showing Their Pride, In Our Nation and Its Leaders,' against a backdrop of American and gay pride flags flying in gay neighborhoods.
"President Bush," the ad concludes,"Thank You for your Leadership in These Challenging Times," with a line indicating it is sponsored by Log Cabin Republicans.
"We have worked hard to be on the inside and part of the Republican team, and now we have made it," said Paul Wright, president of LCR Michigan/Lower Penninsula, a member of the national Board of Directors and newly elected as the head of the LCR chapter presidents' working group. 'At the White House, on the Hill, from all the Republican leadership we heard that Log Cabin is on the team. As part of the Republican team, we have a responsibility to deliver and we're making it our top priority.'
"We traditionally concentrate most of our campaign work, both funding and grass-roots field support, in the final two months of the campaign when we can make the biggest difference," said David Jackson, president of LCR New York City, Vice President of the Manhattan GOP Central Committee, and newly-elected secretary of the LCR chapter presidents' working group. 'This takes months of preparation, and with the input from the national Republican leadership, we have a strong consensus on where we have to focus our time and money for the rest of the year, and that's on supporting our Republican friends, supporting the GOP and supporting President Bush, who has proven to be the excellent President he promised to be.'
On April 20, the convention culminated in the annual LCR Black Tie Celebration, this year held at Union Station. While the event raised nearly $50,000 in 'hard money' federal contributions for LCR PAC, the focus was on "celebrating the Bush Administration and the New GOP." Keynote addresses were given by Jim Wiggins, LCR's national board secretary and recent Bush appointee to the Environmental Protection Agency, who spoke of his experiences in the Administration; and Patrick Guerriero, the subject of a recent cover story in the Advocate who was the first-ever openly gay running mate selected by a sitting governor in U.S. history.
LCR Executive Director Rich Tafel also acknowledged all the LCR members in the audience who now work for the Bush Administration, and all those activists who worked hard around the country to help elect President Bush in 2000.
"We have come so far in ten years as a Party and as
an organization, and the GOP has never been more inclusive and broad-based
as it is today," Tafel said. "We all worked long and hard together
to get here, and we are proud to be on the team with
President Bush and the Republican leadership. We intend to do our part
at every level, and our people are very excited to get back home and get down