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Commentary: Log Cabin Fever

By Stephen Whitley, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX –

While the Republican Convention was a showcase of tolerance, their platform belied the convention theme of inclusiveness. One need only look at the language contained in the party platform regarding gay marriage to see this dichotomy. Supporters of gay unions such as Governors George Pataki and Arnold Schwarzenegger were center stage, while the party's continued homophobia was still very much in evidence. While this stance is no surprise to me, it seems the scales have finally fallen from the Log Cabin Republicans' eyes.

The National Board of the Log Cabin Republicans voted Tuesday night 22 to 2 to withhold their endorsement of President Bush for a second term. The tipping point, it seems, was Bush's support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as well as language in the Republican platform that would further ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other benefits or protections for gay families. Gay Democrats did not expect anything different, but why has it taken the Log Cabin Republicans so long to get hip to the GOP? Have they suddenly been struck with a case of Log Cabin Fever from being in such close proximity to each other? I don't pretend to understand. I've been confused about the Log Cabin Republicans for years.

Their website says, "We are loyal Republicans. We believe in low taxes, limited government, strong defense, free markets, personal responsibility, and individual liberty." The site also states they are on the front lines of the fight for equality. If that's truly the case, Log Cabin Republicans are new to the battle. For years they have been willing to support a party long ago hijacked by the religious right. They have been more concerned about increasing their stock portfolios and lowering their personal income taxes than they have over the plight of the gay community as a whole.

I've always felt pity for the Log Cabin Republicans. They are like the kids in high school who wanted to be in with the "in crowd" and no matter how many times they were pushed aside and derided, they still try and try again. After George W. Bush conducted a cursory meeting in 2000 with representatives of the group, one member, District of Columbia Councilman David Catania gushed, "This was a very productive meeting with the governor. He committed to us that this will be an ongoing dialogue." I guess the President has stopped listening. The Log Cabins were perfectly willing in 2000 to ignore the marriage issue to support Bush. Now they see themselves on the front lines of the culture war. But some have been fighting this war for a long time, and while we are more than happy to receive support from any quarter, the newfound righteous indignation of the Log Cabin Republicans does not entitle them to be the new voice of inclusion.

The Log Cabin Republicans decided a long time ago to cast their lot with the party of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the most ideological one of all, Rick Santorum. Perhaps they will continue to seek refuge under the "Big Tent" but they may never be welcome there.

Stephen Whitley is a writer from Dallas. If you have opinions or rebuttals about this commentary, call (214) 740-9338 or email us.