A House Divided?

When Patrick Guerriero, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans arrived in New York for the Republican National Convention, he was prepared for the party's platform to include language endorsing President Bush's call for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

But when the GOP platform committee went one step further and adopted language hostile to civil unions and domestic partnerships for gays and lesbians, language that was ratified Monday by the entire Republican convention, Guerriero and his fellow Log Cabin Republicans decided to launch a television ad beseeching Republicans to choose what the group calls the hope and inclusiveness of Ronald Reagan, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani over what the group calls the intolerance, fear and hate of Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell and Rick Santorum.

The ad will air on local broadcast stations in New York this week and nationwide on cable for as long as the group's fundraising can sustain it. The group would not disclose the size of the initial buy.

The straw that broke the camel's back for the Log Cabin Republicans came on Aug. 25 when the Republican Party's platform committee approved language stating that the legal recognition and accompanying benefits of marriage "should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman."

"We don't believe judges and bureaucrats should be allowed to recognize other living arrangements as the equivalent of marriage," said Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi and chair of the "Defending Our Families" subcommittee, when presenting his panel's recommendations to the full platform committee.

When members of the platform committee sought to move the party platform to the right of President Bush's positions on embryonic stem cell research, immigration and federal education spending, President Bush's allies, led by Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader and co-chair of the platform committee, were swift to block the move.

But they made no such effort when it came to issues pertaining to the rights of gays and lesbians, outraging Log Cabin Republicans.

Pointing to Bush's Aug. 12 comments to CNN's Larry King that civil unions are "up to states" and that "if they want to provide legal protections for gays, that's great. That's fine," as well as this week's inclusion of three gay-friendly Republicans--Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger--in the party's primetime speaking slots, Guerriero argued on Monday that Bush is trying to have it "both ways" on gay issues.

"You can't have it both ways," Guerriero said, "Live with the consequences."

Shortly after the GOP convention, a 25-member panel will decide whether the Log Cabin Republicans will endorse Bush for president. As a Republican organization, the group's bylaws allow it to either endorse the Republican for president or not endorse anyone. Besides, Guerriero says his members are "pretty solid" in their support of lower taxes and a strong defense, issues they don't believe Sen. John Kerry could represent them on.

Anticipating that Cheney will not seek the White House in 2008, Guerriero predicts the GOP will face a wide-open primary fight over gay rights that year and he wants to plant the seeds, in terms of financial resources and grassroots support, for a social moderate to win the party's nomination.

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