Dallas chapter president helps sponsor brunch
Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, said this week that the First in the Nation Presidential Brunch held Sunday, Jan. 6, in New Hampshire marked a historic first.
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee, host for the event, had invited the Log Cabin Republicans national organization to participate as a sponsor. Schlein said he believes this is the first time that the LGBT Republican group has been asked to “sponsor such an event and to be so visible” at an official party function.
And the gay Republicans were definitely visible: Log Cabin had a “large, very colorful” banner prominently displayed and two full-page ads in the event program, and the Log Cabin members attending all wore their Log Cabin lapel pins and stickers declaring “Liberty For All,” Schlein said.
He explained that he and his partner attended the event after receiving an e-mail in December asking for Log Cabin members around the country to contribute to the cost of the sponsorship and to attend the event.
Schlein acknowledged that “New England is probably a little more progressive” than some other regions of the country, but said that unlike at previous Texas State GOP Conventions, the gay group’s attendance drew little comment.
“Everyone was very warm that came to talk to us,” Schlein said. “I did not feel any negative vibes from anyone. There were no secret whispers “‘Oh, that’s the gay group’ going on.”
He added, “Everyone was very warm… . We walked around and people introduced themselves. It [being gay] was a non-issue, which is really very often the feeling I get locally at Republican events.
Some of the people here locally are not very friendly toward us [Log Cabin], but there is plenty of support, albeit quiet support,” Schlein said.
Schlein said that those attending the brunch “saw more surrogates than actual candidates.” In fact, according to a report in the New England LGBT newspaper Bay Windows, the only two presidential candidates who actually attended were Texas Congressman Ron Paul and California Congressman Duncan Hunter. Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney all sent representatives to speak on their behalf.
Two candidates former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson did not attend and sent no representatives.
Schlein said that none of the anti-gay rhetoric some candidates use to appeal to the religious conservative wing of the Republican Party was in evidence at the brunch.
Instead, he said, the candidates and their representatives focused on issues like national security and the candidates’ experience and expertise.
“Immigration and the war on terror seem to be the real hot issues on our side,” Schlein said.
He also said that McCain, who eventually won the GOP Primary with by 5 percent margin over Romney, was the obvious favorite as early as the Sunday before the voting.
“We felt like then that McCain was going to win,” Schlein said. “You could just feel it in the room.”
Schlein said that although Texas is far removed from New Hampshire, he felt it was important to attend the First in the Nation Brunch because the Dallas group is one of Log Cabin’s most important local chapters.
Schlein said he believes the party’s willingness to work with Log Cabin in New Hampshire is a harbinger of things to come in North Texas.
Jon Neerman, the only candidate for party chair in Dallas County, has asked for and received Log Cabin’s endorsement, and will be the guest speaker at Log Cabin’s meeting later this month.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 11, 2008