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Log Cabin Republicans And GOProud Struggle For Future Of LGBT People In The GOP Party

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Jimmy LaSalvia, 41, and Christopher R. Barron, 38, founded GOProud in 2009 because they felt that Log Cabin was too liberal.
Jimmy LaSalvia, 41, and Christopher R. Barron, 38, founded GOProud in 2009 because they felt that Log Cabin was too liberal.

The night before the Republican National Convention began in Tampa last month, a group of gay Republicans sipped wine and ate crab cakes at the Rusty Pelican, a white-tablecloth establishment with massive fireplaces and sweeping bay views. Defying the widespread perception that the Republican party is more actively opposed to gay rights than ever, R. Clarke Cooper, the 41-year-old director of the Log Cabin Republicans, told the gathering that gays are not just an “insular group in the party, we’re an integral part of the party.” Like other fetes around town that week, the reception was dominated by clean-cut white men who looked like consultants with practiced golf swings. Women and minorities were as rare a sight as unpleated pants.

Log Cabin, a Republican fixture since the late 70s, defines its mission as building a “stronger, more inclusive Republican Party” by lobbying for same-sex marriage, anti-discrimination laws, and other gay causes. With 44 chapters and more than 45,000 members, it has become the closest thing there is in the gay Republican scene to “the establishment.” Its nemesis and counterpart is the three-year-old GOProud, the only other national organization for gay Republicans. While Log Cabin’s white-wine affair at the Rusty Pelican was designed to appeal to the old-school Republican country-club set, GOProud’s event, dubbed Homocon, featured male go-go dancers in skin-tight “Freedom is Fabulous” belly-tees.

Among the first arrivals to Homocon, which kicked off a few nights later at a gay nightclub across town, was Mark Foley, the Republican ex-congressman who resigned in 2006 after rumors surfaced that he had sent suggestive emails to underage interns.

“I always like the best parties and this is going to be the best party,” Foley declared. Wearing boot-cut jeans, cowboy boots, and a grin, Foley bore little resemblance to the haggard, frowning and ostensible heterosexual who made national headlines six years ago after messaging a high-school lacrosse player saying he wanted to grab his “big buldge” [sic].

With a quarter as many members as Log Cabin, GOProud likens itself to a gay version of the Tea Party, a band of self-described rebels who share the Tea Party’s hatred of big government and taxes. While Cooper, the head of Log Cabin, is in many ways the consummate GOP insider -- a former bureaucrat in the George W. Bush administration who traces his family’s American military legacy back to 1675 -- GOProud is led by a pair of Log Cabin defectors who style themselves as the consummate outsiders, full of contempt for those they call the proponents of the “gay left agenda,” including their former colleagues at Log Cabin. Jimmy LaSalvia, a career activist in his early 40s, and Christopher R. Barron, 38, a lawyer, say they founded GOProud because they felt that Log Cabin was too liberal and that they could advance gay rights by championing more conservative policies.

Parse the distinctions between Log Cabin and GOProud and you not only parse political and social fault lines around gay rights, you straddle the divisions solidifying among Republicans themselves as the Grand Old Party tilts ever more to the right.

GOProud’s leaders have little interest in fighting for any of the policies that gay rights activists have championed. While Log Cabin tries to deliver Republican votes to mostly Democratic social legislation, GOProud dismisses those efforts as futile and, well, liberal. Yes, they support gay marriage, but they don’t consider it a priority. They say the best thing the government could do to promote gay equality would be to adopt the “Fair Tax,” which would eliminate all income and business taxes and institute a sales tax of either 23 or 30 percent, depending on how that tax is calculated.

The two groups also differ in their stance towards the Romney-Ryan ticket. By several accounts, Log Cabin members are having a hard time accepting someone who openly rejects gay-rights legislation, and they have yet to endorse the former governor from Massachusetts. But GOProud doesn’t see Romney’s positions on gay rights as an obstacle. Like many other conservatives this election cycle, GOProud supports Romney in large part because he isn’t Obama. “Gay people are living in the disastrous failed Obama economy too,” said LaSalvia in a press release announcing the group’s decision.

While Log Cabin supports the minority of fiscal conservatives in government who are in favor of gay rights, like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida congresswoman who used to employ Cooper, GOProud’s leaders idolize right-wing firebrands. Ann Coulter is a particular favorite, even though she doesn’t believe that gays should be allowed to marry and once told a reporter that sexually active gay men should “feel guilty” about their behavior.

Many gay advocates say that the future of same-sex marriage will depend on broad bipartisan support, and some of them are growing frustrated that the country’s only two Republican gay groups won’t work together to win over more Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republican party has adopted what is widely seen as the most socially conservative platform in its history, and advocates warn that a Romney presidency could mean the end of same-sex marriage, a reversion to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and a halt to the other advances of the gay-rights movement of the last three decades.

Last month, as a storm loomed near Tampa, Cooper tried to inspire his members by painting a sunny picture of the future for gays in the GOP. He talked about Richard Tisei, a candidate for Congress in Mass., who stands a good chance of becoming the first openly gay Republican politician to win a congressional seat and he mentioned that Log Cabin’s materials sat right next to pamphlets by a right-wing group at the recent Republican party platform drafting session. Yes, at that same session, the Republican National Committee had drafted a platform document rejecting all of Log Cabin’s major proposals, but Cooper
seemed unfazed.

“This isn’t just ‘the party’, this is ‘our party,’” he declared.

REPUBLICANS FROM THE GET-GO

The rift between Log Cabin and GOProud is part of a larger story, that of the increasing polarization of American politics and the Republican party’s steady shift to the right. Although the split happened only three years ago, it’s hard to grasp its broader significance without knowing something about Log Cabin’s origins in the late 1970s.

At the time, legalizing same-sex marriage wasn’t on the table, or anywhere near it -- hardly anyone in either party considered it a serious possibility. The first Log Cabin chapter formed after gay conservatives in California lobbied Ronald Reagan, the former governor then preparing to run for president, to speak out against the Briggs Initiative. This Republican-led ballot measure would have banned gays from teaching in public schools. After Reagan criticized the law and California’s voters rejected it by a wide margin, gay conservatives saw an opportunity to press their party to stand up for other gay-rights issues. They chose a name that conjured an idealized vision of the Republican party. “President Lincoln built the Republican Party on the principles of liberty and equality,” Log Cabin explains on its website. They hoped that Reagan and other Republicans would follow in those footsteps.

Even in the late 70s, being a gay conservative was a complicated and counterintuitive thing. Today, however, it is arguably more so. Although most of the activists behind the gay rights movement were liberals, it would be years before the national Democratic Party would add the notion of sexuality to anti-discrimination laws or hate-crime legislation, and decades before the party took a strong stand in favor of same sex marriage. As President, Jimmy Carter, like Governor Reagan, opposed the Briggs initiative, but he didn’t personally express advocacy for gay marriage until this year. If you were gay and a fiscal conservative, the type of pro-business voter who worshipped Reagan, there was less incentive to turn your back on the party of low taxes, smaller government, and decreased regulation.

Starting in the 80s, that began to change. First, the Democrats began endorsing gay rights in their national platform and in local elections. Then, in 1992, Pat Buchanan riled up the crowd at the Republican National Convention by declaring a “cultural war” against liberals, atheists, feminists and “the homosexual rights movement.” A social conservative movement had been building on the fringes of the party, and Buchanan’s speech marked its arrival in the mainstream consciousness.

A few years later, when Senator Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton, Log Cabin successfully pressured Dole to make sure that the ‘96 convention would be free of such displays of anti-gay sentiment. But by then the social conservative movement had birthed a number of powerful leaders and lobbying groups of its own, among them the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and Jerry Fallwell’s Moral Majority, and this cohort used its influence among evangelical voters and funders to pressure major Republican candidates into adopting conservative social positions.

As the Republican party drifted further to the right, and the Democratic party gradually embraced a gay rights agenda, Log Cabin continued to insist on working with conservative leaders, with mixed results. They believed it would only be a matter of time before they could have the best of both worlds -- a party that embraced gay rightsand minimal taxation. Richard Tafel, the first president of Log Cabin, pointed to the fact that Republicans didn’t widely excoriate the President for supporting same-sex marriage. “That’s an amazing development as well,” he said.

Recently, Log Cabin has helped deliver key votes in state battles over marriage rights -- most significantly in New Hampshire and New York -- and they filed a lawsuit that played a critical role in tearing down Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But they have hardly freed the Republican party from the influence of social conservatives, and both GOProud and many gay activists on the left see this as evidence of their irrelevance.

Last year, before accepting his party’s nomination for president, Mitt Romney pledged to ban gay marriage. A few months later, President Obama became the first president in history to openly back it. Many people feel that the line between the Republican and Democratic candidates has never been so visible.

In 2008, neither Obama nor Senator McCain endorsed same-sex marriage, but over the past several years, the President has, in his words, “evolved.” In 2009, he passed the hate crime law that protects gays, and in 2011, he repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and declared that his Justice Department would no longer defend the government from an onslaught of lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the 1996 bill, signed by Clinton, in which marriage is defined as the “legal union of one man and one woman.” In May, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both announced that they personally supported same-sex marriage.

At this year’s convention, for the first time ever, the Democratic Party adopted a platform setting forth the goal of supporting “marriage equality” and “the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.” This year’s Republican Platform, meanwhile, railed against judicial proponents for same-sex marriage, calling it “an assault on the foundations of our society,” and labeled Obama’s refusal to defend DOMA a “mockery of the President’s inaugural oath.”

This year could be a turning point for gay Republicans, and not in the way that Romney backers would hope.In past years, between roughly 20 and 30 percent of voters who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have thrown in their lot with Republican candidates, but some observers are predicting that that number could drop. Obama’s support of same sex marriage had an impact on at least one prominent gay Romney supporter. After Obama made his announcement, Bill White, the former president of the Intrepid Museum, asked the Romney campaign to return his $2,500 donation.

It’s hard to know how many gay Republicans have already defected to Obama’s camp. If you wanted to talk to that contingent, the Republican National Convention was not the place to look. In Tampa, many of the same Republican diehards attended every gay event. There was Jim Kolbe, a former Arizona congressman who was outed by the gay press in the 90s after he voted with the majority of the Congress to define marriage as the “union between a man and a woman”, and Fred Karger, the greatest gay Republican presidential candidate of 2012 you’ve never heard of (he didn’t perform well enough in the polls to earn a spot in the debates and gave up his election bid just two months before the convention.)

Also in attendance was Rich Weissman, a gay Jewish donor who used to raise money for Clinton and now wears four lapel pins -- the Republican Party elephant, the hybrid bald eagle-Star of David representing the Republican Jewish Coalition, Freedom to Marry’s Valentine heart, and the plain red-white-and-blue rectangle of the Log Cabin Republicans. Weissman wholeheartedly believes that same-sex marriage should be legal, and he also believes that his taxes should be low. Unlike the majority of gay people, he refuses to see those two things as mutually exclusive. “The issues of economic growth are now so central that that has to be the way I vote,” he said.

Cooper, a soft-spoken Army captain who says his shiny head is frequently confused with that of the Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, spent much of the week schmoozing with people at cocktail parties throughout the city. Unlike many gay conservatives, Cooper attributes his Republican loyalties to national security concerns and -- perhaps harder to shake -- his family’s tradition. Raised in Tallahassee, Florida, he comes from a long line of Republicans and military men.

“We were Republicans from the get-go,” he said. “Before that we were Whigs. Before being Whigs we were Federalists. Before the Revolution we were conservatives, or what’s known as ‘Tories’.” His ancestors on both sides came over in the 17th century, and they’ve fought in King Philip’s War, the American Revolution, the American Civil War and World War II. In 2004, Cooper added to that legacy by serving in Iraq as an Army officer, an experience that he says has put the challenges of his current job in perspective. “Even eight years later, I can still identify the various sounds made by different caliber rounds or ordinance,” he said. “Frankly I think nothing can compare to being shot at.”

Although he is aware of those in his own party that work against him, he chooses to see the glass half-full. Perhaps the strongest measure that suggests the GOP will eventually fully embrace gay rights is not seen in political rhetoric, but in recent polling that shows that young Americans are less religious than they were just five years ago, and far more supportive of gay rights, regardless of political affiliation. In Tampa, Cooper spent his days radiating as much positivity about the Party as any Republican operative. To a man in a khaki suit at the Sunday night shindig, he called out, “Thank you for being you!” To a woman who said that her congressman boss was glad that she’d attended Monday afternoon’s cocktail reception, he
proclaimed, “Well if you’re happy and your boss is happy and I’m happy, then that is just so happy.”

Most gay rights activists would be hard-pressed to use the word “happy” at such an event. The majority of Republican leaders in Congress are still opposed to same-sex marriage, gay anti-discrimination laws and gay hate-crime laws; and not only has Romney personally pledged to ban gay marriage, but he’s also vowed to appoint judges committed to protecting that legacy. To quote Evan Wolfson, head of the nonpartisan same-sex advocacy group Freedom To Marry, “Generally speaking, the Republican Party has been horrible.”

While some on the left, including Wolfson, feel that Log Cabin’s tactics could bolster the work of gay rights activists in both parties, others are far less gracious in their judgements. Barney Frank, never one to mince words, has repeatedly compared them to Uncle Toms.

“I’ll be honest,” Frank said in an interview at the Democratic National Convention with Michelangelo Signorile, a radio host and Huffington Post editor. “For 20 years now I’ve heard how the Log Cabins are going to make Republicans better, but they’ve only gotten worse.” As for GOProud, he later belittled the “oddly-named” group as Log Cabin’s “outlandish cousins.”

“IT WILL BE AWESOME”

A day after Cooper’s opening remarks, the leaders of GOProud sat in a hotel room a good hour from the convention site, frenetically preparing for their event the next night. LaSalvia, who wears his golden hair in a swooping, glossy side-part and whose cured-leather face makes John Boehner look almost pale, glanced up from his phone and announced that a New York Post gossip reporter had RSVP’d in the affirmative. Barron, who is tall and angular with an action-hero jaw-line, said, “I’m not saying this because this is our event, but it will be awesome.”

Barron and LaSalvia met in 2004, when they were both still Log Cabin members. When the previous director announced his departure in 2008, they both made a run for the executive leadership position. Neither succeeded, however, and the post sat empty for nearly two years, until Cooper began his term in 2010.

No one in Tampa seemed more interested in talking about Cooper than LaSalvia and Barron. As they looked through their emails in the hotel room, it did not take long for the conversation to turn to this irresistible subject. “Oh here’s a good one,” said Barron. He read aloud from a message on a gay liberal listserve bashing GOProud and offering qualified praise to Log Cabin.

Jimmy, typing on his laptop across the room, whipped around, brushing back his burnished hairdo. “That’s because the left loves their conservatives neutered,” he said.

“And no one is more neutered than Clarke Cooper,” said Barron. Both men leaned back their heads and laughed. Despite their rocky history with Log Cabin, Barron and LaSalvia both claim that their disdain for Cooper isn’t personal but philosophical.

By the time they embarked on their respective quests to lead Log Cabin, they had each grown disappointed with the group, they said. It’s not that they didn’t care about the problems that Log Cabin was trying to solve; but they believed that the best solutions were to be found further to the right. Take their views on anti-gay violence, for example.

Last summer, after Jimmy LaSalvia was reportedly attacked by a gang of teenagers who called him a faggot, he didn’t see the incident as an argument in favor of the 2009 hate crime bill signed by Obama that extended the law to protect gay people -- legislation that Log Cabin applauded. “Now I know I should own a gun,” he wrote in an op-ed for The Advocate at the time. For the group’s first legislative campaign, it tried, unsuccessfully, to help pro-gun Republicans pass a concealed weapons amendment to Obama’s hate crime legislation.

The conflict between GOProud and Log Cabin also has something to do with culture. One of their early disagreements centered on Ann Coulter, the scourge of the left, whose extensive commentary on gay issues includes the remark that Rick Santorum’s comparison of gay sex to bestiality is “indisputably true.” LaSalvia and Barron see Coulter as “fabulous and beautiful,” a “right-wing Judy Garland,” and they pushed Log Cabin to invite her to speak at an event, without success.
“It was clear that Log Cabin was moving in a very different direction,” said Barron.

Coulter now serves as an honorary chair on GOProud’s advisory board. “Ann is not there on gay marriage,” said Barron. “But she’s not a bigot, far from it. I tell people she’s done more for gay people than a dozen Rachel Maddows will ever do. Rachel Maddow’s preaching to the choir. She’s talking to the totally convinced. Ann is talking to people who never thought about these issues.” At the first Homocon party in 2010, Coulter told the crowd, with her trademark irreverence, that “not only can gays be conservative, you pretty much have to be.” She ticked off a few reasons: gays are the “highest income demographic,” radical Muslims want to kill them, and if scientists find the gay gene, “guess who’s getting aborted?”

While Log Cabin tries to play down the tensions between gay conservatives and their opponents on both sides of the aisle, GOProud revels in drama of all kinds. Around 10:30 the following night, as the guests trickled into their party, a phalanx of protesters assembled outside, holding up signs reading “Ask Me Why You Deserve Hell” and “Homosex Is Sin.” Barron leaned over the club’s second-floor balcony, a gleeful smile plastered to his face. “This is fucking awesome!” he said. “This is the cherry on the sundae!”

LaSalvia paced back and forth across the main floor, checking his cell phone, brushing back his hair, hugging people. Barron went over to a clutch of reporters, who seemed to outnumber delegates by a large measure. One Orlando delegate did agree to a brief interview. “There are lots of gay members of the party from my county,” he said. Was he one of them? “I’m not officially gay,” he replied with a smile. Another guest, Michael Carr, a gay Republican running for Colorado state senate, half-jokingly proclaimed that whatever he did that night was “off the record.”

As midnight approached, LaSalvia and Barron took the stage and declared the event “historic.” With nearly 1,000 people in attendance, this ranked as the largest gay conservative party in history, they claimed, no matter that the presence of reporters and local gay liberals accounted for a good percentage of the tally.

“Not that size matters, but ours is the biggest,” said LaSalvia in a jab at Log Cabin. “Obama and the left would have you believe that conservatives hate gay people,” he went on, “the conservative movement embraces gay people.” The crowd cheered and LaSalvia turned serious. Marriage might be important, LaSalvia continued, but “before you can get married you have to have a date, and everyone knows you can’t get a date without a job.”

TOKEN REPRESENTATION

Members of Log Cabin generally don’t share GOProud’s enthusiasm for eviscerating their fellow gay conservatives, at least not in public. Robert Kabel, a member of the Republican National Committee and former chairman of Log Cabin, said that when he was running as an openly gay candidate for his seat on the RNC, GOProud backed his opponent, a social conservative who did not support gay rights. “I’m not sure what they’re up to,” he said. Others offered harsher criticisms, but not on the record. One thing that the two groups do have in common is the belief that their mere presence in Washington and at the convention signifies real progress in the party. Over and over, gay Republicans in Tampa raised the specter of Pat Buchanan at the 1992 convention. Drawing a contrast with those bad old days, Rich Weissman, the former Democrat, talked about the “gentle acceptance” he’d felt all week at the convention. “That makes me feel really really good,” he said.

Jim Kolbe, the former congressman from Arizona, said he felt encouraged by the fact that there are now a handful of openly gay Republican candidates running for office, albeit mostly in local elections. In 2000, Kolbe, who was by then out of the closet, delivered a speech at the convention in Philadelphia and a contingent of Texas delegates took off their cowboy hats and prayed. Despite the decline of such overt gestures of anti-gay sentiment, some critics feel that the “gentle acceptance” now on display is actually a warning sign. “The more conservative you get, perhaps the more imperative it is to have token representation with you,” said Michael Bronski, the author of A Queer History of the United States and a Harvard Professor. “You need a little bit of pro-choice women and some gay guys and some black people so that you aren’t completely visibly
homophobic, misogynistic and racist.”

Evan Wolfson, an influential voice on the left and the head of Freedom to Marry, said that while it’s still true that the “majority of Republicans and the Republican leadership are far more anti-gay than the vast majority of Democrats and the Democratic leadership, there are beginning to be significant fissures in the Republican party.” In his mind, however, it isn’t GOProud or Log Cabin that are primarily driving these changes. Although his group is working with Log Cabin in a campaign to win over young conservatives, he gives most of the credit to organizations made up largely of Democrats, like his own.

More specifically, he credits the work of left-leaning groups over the past three decades with making America a place where it’s socially acceptable to be gay -- a place where gay Republican voters and the occasional politician can come out as gay to their fellow conservatives without fear of alienation. He also acknowledged the emergence of a number of powerful “right-of-center” voices speaking up for marriage rights, among them Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, the Conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron and even (“God help us,” he says) Glenn Beck. And he gives credit to a few big-money forces on the right. In recent years Paul E. Singer, a major Republican donor whose son is gay, has given millions to gay-rights initiatives. In June, he and several other Republican magnates started a Super PAC devoted to raising money for Republicans candidates who advocate same-sex marriage.

A TERRIER AND AN ORANGE TREE

As the country’s two gay conservative groups went about their work at the convention this year, so did the country’s most strenuous opponents of gay rights. At a table at the convention-center cafeteria, waiting for his quesadilla, Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, dismissed the relevance of Log Cabin’s participation in the platform-drafting discussion. “We came out with a very strong pro-family conservative document that underscores the importance of traditional marriage,” he said. “Actually, it was easier this year to get what long-term platform participants have said is the most conservative document the GOP has ever had.”

Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, stopped to talk while making his rounds of the conservative radio hosts stationed on the second floor of the convention center. He said he had no objections to the participation of gay people in the Republican party. “Gay people can be Republicans, Democrats -- they can be whatever they want to be,” said Brown. He claimed that there are even gay people who support the National Organization for Marriage, but they don’t “act on those impulses,” he explained.

Given “the absolute failure” of gay groups at the convention, Brown continued, he wasn’t losing any sleep over either Clarke Cooper’s maneuvering or the big crowd at Homocon. He said he was somewhat more concerned about the usual array of activists on the left and “big money folks like Singer,” yet he expressed total confidence that his group’s agenda would ultimately prevail. “If you want to throw social conservatives under the bus, you’re going to lose elections, period,” he said. “I don’t think the hard left realizes what’s about to happen. You’re going to see President Obama lose because of key swing states.” Gay marriage, he predicted, will be “a significant part of that loss.”

Log Cabin Republicans are aware of the sway that Perkins, Brown and other social conservatives hold with Romney, whose marriage pledge was drafted by Brown’s group. It was pressure from Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio personality with the American Family Association, that led to the resignation this spring of Richard Grenell, an openly gay man appointed to serve as the Romney campaign’s foreign policy advisor. (Grenell insists that his resignation was his own choice and that if elected Romney will appoint openly gay Republicans to serve in his administration.)

Still, most gay Republicans hold out hope that Romney will, if not support gay rights, at least refrain from rolling them back, and they search for evidence of this in ethereal hints and cues. “We don’t listen to what a candidate actually says,” said Sarah Longwell, a member of Log Cabin’s national board, “We try to feel where they seem to stand.”

Cooper refuses to discuss his views on the candidate or reveal whom he backed in the primary, and he won’t comment on whether Log Cabin’s silence so far means anything significant. The vagueness is characteristic form for Cooper, who, in the mold of Romney, is something of a cipher.

Among the matters he refused to discuss on the record were his experiences at a private party thrown by his former boss Jeb Bush, the difficulty of getting around the convention site, the work of a number of activist organizations on the left, and his thoughts about GOProud. He’s careful not to offend any potential allies, even the many critics on both the left and the right who clearly don’t worry for moment about offending him. His entire life is wrapped up in the work of building alliances with such people, and although he’s constantly beating the drum for marriage equality, he says he has no time to pursue a relationship of his own. “I have a Jack Russell terrier and an orange tree,” he said.

After Romney addressed the convention on Thursday night, pundits widely noted the lack of concrete proposals in his speech. But the candidate did make a few specific promises. He said he would not raise taxes on the middle class, he’d “protect the sanctity of life,” he’d “guarantee” the freedom of religion, and he’d “honor the institution of marriage.” By the following night, the Family Research Council, GOProud and Log Cabin had all put out press releases driving home their distinct points of view. The Family Research Council assured those voters “hungry for a return to core values” that “Mitt was unequivocal” and quoted his lines on marriage and religion. GOProud’s leaders said they were “incredibly proud to be the only national gay group to have endorsed Mitt Romney’s bid for President.”

And Cooper was characteristically opaque. A storm of rhetoric was raging against him again, but he seemed certain it would pass. In the meantime, he planned to stay the course. “As the 2012 Republican National Convention comes to a close, two things are very clear,” he wrote in a note to Log Cabin members and the press. “Gay conservatives absolutely have a place within the Republican Party. We also have an important responsibility to work to make our party more inclusive. Log Cabin Republicans intend to fully embrace both roles.”

This story originally appeared in Huffington, in the iTunes App store.

CORRECTION: This piece incorrectly stated that Reagan was the governor of California at the time of the Briggs Initiative. Jerry Brown was the governor in 1978. In addition, this piece misstated that the previous director of Log Cabin Republicans stepped down in 2008, which is when he announced his departure. He left in January 2009.

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