By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Stuart Eskenazi's treatment of the Log Cabin Republicans ["GOP to gays: Butt out," September 3] was very charitable. I'm glad to have seen this merry band of Quixotic political wannabes receive the journalistic scrutiny they have long craved. (The Dallas Morning News dares no such investigation.)
Eskenazi's exploration of the psychological motives driving this club are to the point. What we seem to have is a few weak, ineffectual, affluent gay white men desperate to rub elbows and grab asses with powerful, effective, affluent non-gay white men. Unlikely? Duh.
Even more laughable is that Log Cabin Republicans truly believe that wearing their best designer suit to the Republican National Convention is more courageous than wearing a thong on Gay Pride Day. Eskenazi's report sums up the political ambitions of the Log Cabin Republicans with the quotation, "I don't care about any of those people. I care about my pocketbook." This ugly message is so glaringly apparent that no amount of rhetoric about low taxes, limited government, traditional values, and fiscal conservatism can cover the greed at its center.
In his long opinion piece on the Log Cabin Republicans, Stuart Eskenazi gives hack journalism a bad name.
Parts of the article are just schizophrenic. Eskenazi digs up former Log Cabin members (who, by the way, have had no contact with the organization for almost two years) and quotes them fretting that Log Cabin is selling out to the religious right in the GOP. Then he quotes a single Republican consultant for the proposition that Log Cabin is threatening "party unity" with its opposition to this same religious right. So which is it: Is Log Cabin a lap dog or an attack dog? Eskenazi likes it both ways.
Eskenazi asserts, without support or documentation, that "the majority of gays think..." and "many gays believe..." such-and-such about Log Cabin. What is the basis for these claims about what gays think? Did he conduct a survey? Or did he just talk to Log Cabin's critics and confuse them for the entire "gay community"? This is sloppiness.
In his labors to paint Log Cabin as controversial, Eskenazi goes all the way to Texarkana to find disparaging words about the group. Yet he completely ignores Log Cabin's supporters, both in the gay community and within the Republican Party, and quotes none of them. Moreover, he never questions the motives or interests that Log Cabin's few vocal critics might have. Both the religious right and gay left have reason for concern that a group of gay Republicans might upset the apple cart in their respective domains. These are the kinds of probing questions a real investigative reporter would have asked. But Eskenazi is unconcerned about them.
Although he freely, and selectively, quotes Log Cabin members by name for a variety of propositions, Eskenazi cites only anonymous Log Cabin sources for the idea that state senators Jeff Wentworth and Bill Ratliff are our bosom buddies in the legislature. Then he ridicules the idea that they are allies of gay civil rights. Who were his anonymous sources in Log Cabin? During an interview I, for one, directly contradicted such notions. But that comment didn't make it past Eskenazi's editorial pen.
Eskenazi observes that Log Cabin has few women and minorities among its members. But he doesn't tell readers that this phenomenon is common in gay political organizations, regardless of their political leanings. Of course, that fact wouldn't fit well with his preconception of Log Cabin as a group of misfits and outcasts in the gay community. But then maybe he didn't report that fact because he doesn't know enough about gay politics or the gay community to know it.
Next time you decide to do a story on Log Cabin, please consider sending a professional.
Stuart Eskenazi's piece on Log Cabin Republicans leaves the reader with the impression that the founders of the gay and lesbian equal rights movement within the Republican Party of Texas no longer support LCR. As the "father" of that movement, I want to go on record as wholeheartedly continuing to support that movement.
Yes, I have concerns about the wisdom of some LCR decisions, but those concerns primarily deal with the short-term strategies of the LCR national leadership, not the movement in Texas shepherded by Dale Carpenter. Dale's instincts for what needs to be done within the Republican Party are on target. His support for traditional Republican concepts of good government and his passionate determination to expose the snake handlers within the party for who they are and what they represent have my wholehearted support.
If I were still active and in charge, I would certainly do some things differently. And there can be no question that in the beginning, LCR leadership created a whole new art form when fighting each other like cats and dogs. But the movement is more important than any personality disagreements or internal family fighting.
Sure, LCR has those who are libertarian extremists, and on occasion I've even met one or two who make Jesse Helms look liberal. It's a free country, and it takes all kinds. After all, would you have LCR exercise a blackball over its entire membership? But it was a cheap shot to suggest that the narcissistic little barfly quoted by Glen Maxey represents anyone other than his pathetic self. As for the caricature of the LCR convention banquet attendees, scratch a fat cat in any party, and you'll find the same thing.
Let us deal with this reality: The Republican Party is the majority party in Texas and the nation. Those of us who founded LCR knew that day was coming, and we wanted to make sure there was a voice of reason within the party to champion common sense. It is a noble cause and one that should be supported by all elements of the gay and lesbian equal rights movement. And the cause remains noble despite the odds.
Admittedly, LCR's Achilles' heel is the natural but deadly tendency to want to be "accepted" by the Republican Party. LCR must be wise enough to reject any leadership that is itself so partisan as to put party unity above what is right and just.
The real problem faced by the gay and lesbian equal rights movement on all sides is leadership's unwillingness to tolerate anyone who isn't politically correct, whether it's the traditional bias liberals have against conservatives or, regrettably, vice versa. The movement, each element unto its talents, must learn to embrace all factions and go forth against the real enemies: ignorance, bigotry, and complacency.
Robert Wade Brown
As a lifelong Republican and a gay Republican before Log Cabin existed, I found this past week's article to be superficial and shallow. It focuses on the problems in Texas while ignoring the successes at both the local and national levels.
Being a gay or lesbian Republican is not easy; but, the same could be said of gay Catholics, Southern Baptists, and any of a variety of gay and lesbian minorities. We at least understand the problem of bigotry and are willing to deal with it within our own party.
In the article, you have a quote from Paul von Wupperfeld about wanting to be a part of a party that is good for gay and lesbian people. The last time I saw him was in January 1996, when he and Andy Smith attended a Log Cabin dinner meeting. At this meeting, each of us spoke about which candidates we were supporting for President. Paul and Andy urged us to vote for Patrick Buchanan for president, hardly a friend of any gays or lesbians. This shocked the members in attendance, and it was the last time we saw them.
The article mentioned the endorsement of former Sen. Robert Dole for President in 1996. This was a hotly debated subject within Log Cabin, with each member in the country voting on this subject. The vote in Texas was not to endorse Sen. Dole; however, the vote nationally was to endorse the senator in his bid for the presidency.
You mention an unnamed Republican political consultant in Austin who claims Log Cabin is losing support among moderates. I think the opposite is true. If you look at the recent vote by the U.S. House on the Hefley amendment, 63 Republicans voted with Democrats to stop this anti-gay legislation. Also, the shabby treatment by the Texas Republican Party has backfired. We are gaining support one precinct at a time, which is the only way to win this war for the soul of the party.
The radical right represents only one-third of the total Republican primary vote in Texas. Several of their prominent candidates, including Tom Pauken, were defeated in the March 1998 primary. The radical right can be beat, and the big surprise is that Log Cabin may end up providing the leadership for the unorganized majority of Republican voters in Texas.
The article misses a great opportunity to discuss the Log Cabin Republicans and how they work in the Republican Party and with other Republicans. Log Cabin does not work with the religious right element in the GOP. We encourage our members to become precinct chairs and attend their neighborhood and county Republican conventions, all for the purpose of making the GOP a Big Tent party that advocates its historic commitment to equal opportunity for everyone. How is this "pledging allegiance" to the vicious portions of the GOP platform?
The Texas Republican Party is currently dominated by religious conservatives who hold disdain for free enterprise and individual rights. Sadly, these individuals freely oppose and persecute Governor Bush, Senator Hutchison, and any other elected GOP official who does not kowtow to their moral agenda.
Mainstream Republicans must stand up for what is right. It is almost the 21st century. Our society is sophisticated enough to stop treating gays and lesbians as second-class citizens. This was the point of our rally during the GOP state convention in Fort Worth last June.
President, Log Cabin Republicans of Texas