Former congressman was only minimally involved with Log Cabin Republicans, group’s vice president says
Log Cabin Republican leaders have come out swinging in the wake of the scandal surrounding gay former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually explicit e-mails to teenage congressional pages.
Patrick Sammon, executive vice president of Log Cabin Republicans, said anti-gay groups seem more interested in using the Foley scandal for their political advantage than finding out what happened and punishing the guilty.
“It has been shameful the way some anti-gay organizations have been trying to use this situation to score political points,” Sammon said in a telephone interview. “They’re trying to use this situation and capitalize on it to push an anti-gay agenda. They should be ashamed.”
Sammon said the critics should be focused on an investigation of wrong doing and prosecuting anyone who broke the law. He called Foley’s behavior “reprehensible, immoral and unethical” and called for his prosecution if he is found to have broken the law.
Foley’s involvement with Log Cabin Republicans was minimal, Sammons said.
The congressman spoke at a Log Cabin Republicans convention in 2003, and the group endorsed him in 2004, he said.
“He certainly wasn’t our strongest ally, but he had some connection,” Sammon said.
Sammon said it was unfair to demean the millions of gay and lesbian people who “go to work, pay taxes, raise families and make this country a better place to live” because of the disgraced congressman’s alleged indiscretions. Conservative leaders are attempting to make scapegoats of LGBT people, he said.
Sammon’s remarks came as conservative group’s leaders are claiming that gay staff members covered up Foley’s behavior, and that the scandal shows how dangerous it is for the Republican Party to become more inclusive of LGBT policies. The atmosphere reportedly has alarmed some gay and lesbian staff members for Republican politicians.
Sammon said he believes the efforts of conservative leaders will fail.
“Ultimately, most of the American public is smart enough to understand that sexual orientation is irrelevant to this situation,” Sammon said.
“What happened here was despicable, but it was unrelated to Mark Foley’s orientation. It would have been just as bad if the teenagers involved were girls instead of boys.”
Sammon said the scandal has alarmed gay Republicans, but it has reaffirmed the importance of Log Cabin Republicans’ work.
“Certainly, it’s been a challenging situation because of the way the anti-gay groups are trying to spin this so that it is the fault of gay Republicans,” Sammon said. “That’s just ludicrous.
“Our members understand that this situation has reaffirmed why it is important to have people working from inside the party. I think there’s maybe some short-term concern, but I think already people are understand why our organization is so important.”
Carla Halbrook, a member of the gay political group’s board of directors and a Dallas resident, said she also supports a complete investigation.
Halbrook said she doubts that Log Cabin Republicans’ inroads into the Republican Party will be rolled back, but that it remains to be seen what effect the scandal will have.
“I don’t think it does anybody any good when it comes out that someone has done something wrong,” Halbrook said. “We’ll wait and see how the investigation goes. Right now, it is just a waiting game.”
Sammon said he believes the efforts to scapegoat LGBT Americans will fail because the gay rights movement is winning.
“There is increasing support among the American people for gay and lesbian equality,” Sammon said.
“You see that in all the polls of recent years. Marriage is the exception, but that is an issue we are still educating people about.
“It’s a mistake for people to judge the success of our movement on these gay marriage amendments. On all of the other questions about how people feel about gay and lesbian equality there are increasing numbers. Even with marriage although there’s still not majority support the numbers are moving in our direction.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.