Pictured George W. Bush was front and center accepting his party's nomination. Mary Cheney (left) was sitting in the stands while her family took center stage for Dick Cheney's VP nod. She's with her partner Heather Poe. Inside Photo Gallery (See Photospread link which appears above, right below images.) California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe in the stands—not with their family on the stage. The Bush girls, Barbara and Jenna, were not just on stage, they spoke. HRC President Cheryl Jacques with HRC's 'You're Fired!' truck in NY for the GOP. The Cheneys. Jerry Falwell. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the convention. Republican gay activist Chris Bowman with Mike DeNunzio. Gay GOPer Carl Schmid. Photos by Patsy Lynch and Rex Wockner
NEW YORK — The big gay story of the Republican National Convention, held here Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, was the gay Log Cabin Republicans' new get-tough approach to the Republican Party.
Log Cabin declared that the GOP has been 'hijacked' by 'the radical right' and repeatedly threatened to withhold its endorsement of George W. Bush's re-election effort.
Log Cabin declared that the GOP has been "hijacked" by "the radical right" and repeatedly threatened to withhold its endorsement of George W. Bush's re-election effort. (On Sept. 8, the Log Cabin Board made good on that threat. See related story.)
'For too long we have watched while the radical right hijacked our party,' said Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero. 'And for too long we have been asked to be loyal foot soldiers on election day and asked to remain silent. ... This party platform is so outrageous and insulting to some of us, that some of us have to call our own party on it.
'If we don't do it, nobody will. And if we don't do it now, we'll be back in four years at a convention with language that's even worse,' he said.
Log Cabin's strong language—and its new TV ad featuring Ronald Reagan—drew heavy media coverage. In the ad, Reagan says, '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.'
CNN refused to air the ad, calling it 'too controversial.' The ad shows photos of preacher Jerry Falwell, writer-activist Pat Buchanan and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and implies they 'divide the American family with the politics of intolerance and fear that only lead to hate.' It also shows the Rev. Fred Phelps holding a 'God Hates Fags' sign.
'The Republican Party has to make a choice,' Guerriero said. 'We can be the party of Giuliani, McCain and Schwarzenegger or we can be the party of Falwell, Santorum and Buchanan. We can unite on those things that bring us together or we can continue the politics of intolerance and fear.'
Guerriero called it a 'fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.'
There were at least 26 openly gay/lesbian delegates to the convention. That compares with 19 in 2000, six in 1996 and two in 1992. About 255 GLBT delegates attended this year's Democratic Convention in Boston.
BUSH STICKS TO SCRIPT
President Bush did nothing to redeem himself among gay Republicans when he accepted the party's nomination the final night.
'Because the union of a man and woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the protection of marriage against activist judges. And I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law,' he said.
'My opponent recently announced that he's the candidate of 'conservative values,' which must have come as a surprise to a lot of his supporters,' Bush continued. 'There's some problems with this claim. If you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I'm afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative values.'
When Bush finished speaking, he was joined on stage by his wife, daughters and parents, and by Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, their daughter Liz, Liz's husband and their four children. Conspicuously missing, as she had been the night before when Cheney spoke, was the Cheneys' other daughter, openly lesbian Mary Cheney.
'I make of it that Mary is shoved back in the closet as viciously and strongly as the Cheney family could and the GOP could,' said John Aravosis, founder of DearMary.com . 'I would be shocked if the Bush-Cheney campaign told Mary that she and Heather were absolutely A-OK on stage. Mary's life partner that wears a gold wedding band along with Mary? There's no way.'
Mary did appear on stage with her parents during the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia.
ACT UP SECURITY BREACH
There were several other gay stories during the convention. The morning of Sept. 1, during the Republican Youth Convention, 11 members of ACT UP slipped through layers upon layers of extreme security to stage a protest on the convention floor.
They disrupted a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card by standing on chairs, chanting, and taking off their shirts to reveal anti-Bush slogans.
The Republican youth responded with chants of 'Four more years.'
The protesters were aggressively hauled away by police, charged with assault and/or inciting to riot, and jailed.
An ACT UP spokeswoman said the group wants Bush to join other wealthy nations in forgiving the global debt of developing nations that have been hard-hit by AIDS.
The demonstrators apparently acquired legitimate credentials as convention volunteers.
In a second gay protest, several members of a group called Gays Against Bush taunted members of the Missouri delegation as they walked into a Manhattan restaurant for dinner.
Missouri voters recently amended their constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
'The Missouri delegation can't come to New York and act like no one is aware of what's happening in their state,' said demonstrator Louis Flores.
The day before the convention, Log Cabin's 'Big Tent Event' was attended by Republican politicians such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Gov. George Pataki, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
'I am a believer that what makes America and New York great is its inclusiveness and its willingness to let everybody be who they are, and I will always stand for that regardless of whether it happens to be politically correct or not,' Bloomberg said.
He added, 'I don't think we should ever use the Constitution to drive wedges between us,' a reference to the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) supported by Bush.
Specter said the arrival of gay equality is inevitable.
'In the long sweep of history, or maybe even the short sweep of history, those who favor gay rights and those who favor equality are on the right side of the issue,' he said.
Weld said same-sex marriage is a conservative concept.
'It's making the same demands on gays and lesbians as are made on everyone else when they want to commit to each other for a lifetime,' he said.
Weld also noted, 'You're not going to repeal biology in the United States Senate or the House.'
A small group of non-Republican gays picketed the Log Cabin event in protest against Mayor Bloomberg's appearance.
'He just talks out of both sides of his mouth,' said demonstrator Ann Northrop. 'He thinks he's progay; he's deluded. And they [LCR] think he's progay, and they're deluded.'
Gay-bashing from the podium was low-key this year.
'Most senators in both parties voted to protect the institution of marriage through the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton, but not John Kerry,' said Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., said: 'Marriage is important because it is the cornerstone of civilization and the foundation of the family. Marriage between a man and a woman isn't something Republicans invented. But it is something Republicans will defend.'
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declared, 'Because every child deserves a mother and a father, we step forward by recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman.'
From the other side, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: 'Maybe, just maybe, you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I believe that's not only OK, that's what's great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic, still be American and still be good Republicans.'
Gay groups chastised Schwarzenegger for using the phrase 'girlie men' again. He said: 'There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people, and faith in the U.S. economy.
'To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don't be economic girlie men!'
The remark elicited the loudest cheers of Schwarzenegger's speech.
Gay delegates interviewed on the convention floor wondered aloud if they'll even vote for Bush this year.
'That's a tough question,' said D.C. delegate Carl Schmid. 'I do not believe that Log Cabin should endorse President Bush. ... It's really the gay issue that holds me up, and some of the HIV/AIDS issues as well, that I'm disappointed with him. It's tough. We're conflicted. It's very difficult sometimes to be gay and Republican and balance those interests.'
'I don't know,' said D.C. delegate Bob Kabel when asked if he'll vote for Bush. 'There's a certain line in the sand that you just can't cross, and so it's hard to look yourself in the face and say I'm a good foot soldier if somebody's trying to amend the U.S. Constitution. ... The question for me is do I vote for President Bush or not vote at all.'
But California delegate Christopher Bowman said he probably will vote for the president.
'I'm not a one-issue person,' he said. 'What we saw with the FMA in July in the Senate was the high-water mark for the FMA. Every year it will lose ground. ... They can put it in the platform. They can pretty it up. But it's a dead issue.'
The straight chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, Mike DeNunzio, congratulated Log Cabin for getting tough but urged the group to endorse Bush anyway.
'Log Cabin has got to stand up for its mission and speak out bravely and clearly,' he said. 'I support that type of activity. [But] this is not a single issue. We're dealing with world terrorism, we're dealing with the economy, and I know the Log Cabin leadership knows that also. For that reason I believe they should endorse the president. ... We're a big-tent party and we've got to have a big perspective on this and then work step-by-step to achieve these goals.'
Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes made news by calling Mary Cheney a 'selfish hedonist' in an interview with Sirius Satellite Radio's OutQ channel.
'If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it's possible to have a marriage state that in principal excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism,' Keyes told OutQ. He was then asked if that meant Mary Cheney 'is a selfish hedonist,' Keyes said 'That goes by definition. Of course she is.'
He later told the Chicago Tribune: 'I have said that if you are actively engaging in homosexual relations, those relations are about selfish hedonism. If my daughter were a lesbian, I'd look at her and say, 'That is a relationship that is based on selfish hedonism.' I would also tell my daughter that it's a sin, and she needs to pray to the Lord God to help her to deal with that sin.'
His remarks were widely denounced by other Illinois Republicans.
State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka called the comments 'idiotic.'
'I think those views are not only extreme but offensive,' said former Illinois Gov. James Thompson, a Republican.
The party platform language that incensed Log Cabin reads:
'We strongly support President Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.'