National LCR board ousts Schlein

National organization decharters LCR-Dallas, creates new local chapter; Schlein announces formation of ‘Metroplex Republicans’

Rob Schlein

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Saying that the leadership of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, especially longtime chapter president Rob Schlein, have “engaged in a consistent pattern of behavior that detracts from the mission of our organization,” national Log Cabin Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper announced this week that the previous Dallas chapter has been de-chartered, and a new chapter created.

“After all due consideration and efforts at reconciliation, the [LCR national] board of directors have decided to begin anew, ensuring that our mission of fighting for freedom can be at its strongest in Dallas and across the country,” Cooper said in a statement released late Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Clarke said that a new Dallas chapter has already been chartered and will be led by Thomas Purdy as president and a new board.

Schlein said Thursday, Oct. 13, that he “didn’t see it coming at all. I knew yesterday that something was cooking, and I got the official word this morning.”

Schlein said he believes “the Dallas chapter was kicked out after inviting [GOProud co-founders] Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia to speak at our [upcoming] Grand Old Party.

“We will continue to work on behalf of gay conservatives in Dallas, and the Grand Old Party dinner will go on,” Schlein added. “We are looking forward to putting on a great event with Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia as our guest speakers.”

Barron and LaSalvia, former Log Cabin staffers, started GOProud in early 2009 after leaving Log Cabin because they considered it too centrist.

By last Thursday, Schlein had announced the creation of Metroplex Republicans in an email, saying that he and others in the original Log Cabin Dallas had already been considering disaffiliating with the national organization because of its more centrist views.

He said those members had been prepared to ask the national board for a hearing to “air our grievances” when the national board “pre-empted us” by dechartering the chapter. “A clear majority of our local board wanted a resolution that would keep us under the LCR umbrella. That said, it takes two to tango,” Schlein said.

He criticized the national board for “hand-selecting” Purdy as president of the new chapter rather than waiting “two months for  elections.” And he noted that the local group had started some 30 years ago as “Metroplex Republicans” before affiliating with Log Cabin in 1995.

“This should be seen as an opportunity to grow as we can reach more Republicans in Dallas,” Schlein said. “Our club will continue to welcome those Republicans of all varieties, including gay, straight, black, Hispanic, Asian.”

Purdy, who was on the board of the now-dechartered Log Cabin Dallas chapter, on Wednesday said that the national LCR board felt Schlein had been “leading the Dallas chapter in a direction not congruent with the direction of Log Cabin Republicans as a whole and the national Log Cabin board felt there were no more options in terms of rectifying that  incongruency.”

He said the national board felt that Schlein had refused to adhere to the national organization’s bylaws and follow its direction: “Essentially, the national board of directors has decided to switch out the leadership of the Dallas chapter, and the only means they had of doing that was to decharter the chapter.”

Purdy said “a handful of members” from the previous chapter “chose to pursue a new charter.”

Purdy said his first order of business as president of the newly chartered Dallas LCR chapter will be to “regroup with a new board” and then “draw up some strategic imperatives. … Our main objective for existing is to really foster a more inclusive environment within the Republican Party. That’s where we will focus our efforts.”

While Cooper pointed to “a consistent pattern of behavior” that led to Schlein’s ouster, Schlein said Thursday he believes “the catalyst for dechartering us” was his decision to invite Barron and LaSalvia to speak at the Grand Old Party.

He said “personal rivalries” between the national leaders of Log Cabin and GOProud led the national LCR board to move against him.

Schlein said, “I think it is sad, a real shame, that the two groups that represent gay conservatives can’t work together just because they attack the issues from different perspectives.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

GOProud leaders to speak at Log Cabin dinner

Jimmy LaSalvia, left, and Chris Barron

The Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans has booked two leaders from GOProud — a competing gay Republican group — to speak at the chapter’s annual dinner in November.

According to an invitation from LCR Dallas, GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia and Board Chairman Chris Barron will headline the 15th annual Grand Ol’ Party at the Hilton Anatole on Nov. 5.

“I’m pleased to report that Jimmy and Chris have agreed to fly from Washington DC to join us in Dallas for the Grand Ol’ Party,” LCR Dallas President Rob Schlein wrote atop an email invitation to the dinner. “They have an interesting history with Log Cabin Republicans and can tell you about their journey in founding a new organization.”

The invitation goes on to say: “Jimmy and Chris were both former employees at the national organization and co-founded GOProud. They have made national attention and have shown an ability to attract substantial ‘whose who’ in our world of politics to their advisory board. Help us welcome both Jimmy and Chris!”

Schlein told Instant Tea that although the two organizations might be considered competitors on a national level, he is friends with LaSalvia and Barron and maintains regular contact with them. Unlike Log Cabin, GOProud doesn’t have local chapters.

The dinner will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Nana Restaurant in the Anatole. For more info or to RSVP, go here.

—  John Wright

LCR convention draws prominent Republicans

Attorney Dan Woods, right, speaks to the media at the United States District Court in Riverside, Calif., after making arguments on the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy last October. Woods, who represents Log Cabin Republicans who are the plaintiffs in the case, will be in Dallas this weekend to speak at the LCR National Convention. (Francis Specker/Associated Press)

DADT attorney Dan Woods, former Congressman Bob Barr slated to speak at gay Republican gathering at the Anatole Hotel

JAMES BRIGHT | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Several prominent GOP members will be spending some time in Dallas this weekend to participate in the Log Cabin Republicans’ annual convention, which will take place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.

The event, which began Thursday, April 28, and runs through Sunday, May 1, will include discussions and speeches from politicians, lawyers and members of the media.

Dan Woods, lead attorney in LCR’s lawsuit challenging the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” will be speaking at the convention about the importance of the case, its current standing and some of the war stories involved in the suit.

“People think this case is over and it’s not,” Woods said in a recent interview. “Our case is alive and kicking.”

Woods said there are two different things going on with the case: Although LCR won at trial, the government has decided to appeal the decision. After months of legal arguments and appeals from both sides oral arguments are supposed to begin next week.

Despite the legal battle and action in Congress to repeal the anti-gay law, Woods said as of this point the repeal of DADT is not in effect. He said that steps have to be taken to get the military ready and although there are some efforts in this area service men and women are still suffering from this legislation.

“There is no timetable as to when this repeal will become affective,” Woods said. “Although the numbers are smaller the government is still investigating people under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”

Another problem Woods said he has run into is that many potential presidential candidates have made stopping the repeal part of their platform. Political issues are key in this legislation’s evolution, according to Woods.

“The government has said they don’t want the courts deciding how our military is run. What’s really going on is President Obama wants to take credit for all this to help his next campaign,” Woods said.

In addition to talking about the current status of DADT, Woods said he will talk about some of those suffering from this legislation.

“We are going to focus on stories about those affected by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the heart-breaking tales of how it impacted them and the unit they worked on,” he said.

One such servicemember, according to Woods, was Alexander Nicholson, who was kicked out of the Army because he was caught writing a letter to a former boyfriend. Another story involved a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves whose name cannot be used.

“This is just another story where someone is being denied their constitutional rights while they work to protect ours,” Woods said.

LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said the repeal of DADT is a front page and front burner issue for the organization.

“We can’t take our eye off it,” he said.

The convention will also feature as keynote speaker former Congressman Bob Barr.

Barr, who ran as the Libertarian candidate in the 2008 presidential election, served in the House of Representatives as a Republican from Georgia from 1995 to 2003. During his time in office he authored and sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted as law in 1996.

At the federal level the legislation recognized marriage as being between a man and a woman and declared that individual states can choose not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Barr apologized in 2008 for his role in creating the legislation and now supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal DOMA.

Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, said Barr is one of the speakers he is most looking forward to hearing, since the former congressman switched his position on DOMA. Schlein said it’s important for members of the LGBT community to hear this information due to misconceptions about the GOP’s opinion toward LGBT people.

“The Republican Party is one of liberty and freedom,” Schlein said. “Gay people should feel at home in the party.”

Cooper said having Barr available to speak at the convention was a wonderful advantage since he was the father of DOMA,

“We started at the top,” Cooper said. “It’s anti-government for the federal government to have such power over the states like what is granted in the Defense of Marriage Act. It’s going to die, but when that happens is just speculation right now.”

Cooper said communication is an important factor in battling for LGBT rights within the GOP.

“We need to let people know in the gay community who are businessmen, or servicemembers that they have a home in the GOP,” he said.

Cooper said the general consensus surrounding the idea of a gay Republican has become a matter of levity to him.

“I joke for gay Republicans there is coming out twice,” he said. “You come out first when you’re gay and then when you’re a Republican.”

Cooper said marriage equality at large is a growing issue on a broader scale. Although it is unlikely that debate over DOMA will be seen on the floor this year, Cooper said events like these give Log Cabin Republicans a chance to educate the entire party.

“We use traditional conservative values from the 19th century,” he said. “We should not regulate or impede on our neighbors’ rights and someone born differently should not be treated differently.”

Cooper said it is important for the entire GOP to know that Log Cabin Republicans are also interested in pushing the party’s larger and broader agenda.

“We want to educate while working with our fellow Republicans,” he said.

Republicans will be responsible for giving members of the LGBT community the liberties they want, according to Schlein, who said that Democrats are the ones perpetuating limited rights.

“Democrats need these issues to keep winning elections,” he said.

Even Democratic politicians at the top of the federal hierarchy are responsible for limiting LGBT equality, according to Schlein. He said President Obama could have easily repealed DADT when he had the support of a Democratic Congress during his first two years in office.

“He chooses not to repeal it, because he wants to enslave gay people,” Schlein said.

In addition to hearing some of the speakers at the convention, Schlein said he will also go to board meetings since he does sit on the national board of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Cooper said recently the number of supporters and members of Log Cabin Republicans have been increasing somewhat dramatically. The development of LCR candidates is an important issue the organization is tackling according to Cooper.

LCR members are developing relationships in the GOP, but also getting members to run, Cooper said.

“Our numbers are starting to grow as more people come out of the closet and more members start to become more supportive,” he said. “We are at a point in the organization where we have to say, ‘It’s just not enough to be visible. We need gay Republicans to run for office.’”

Ken Mehlman, former head of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s successful second run for president, will also be speaking at the convention.

And former Sen. Norm Coleman was a late addition to the event. Coleman, who served as a federal senator from Minnesota from 2003 to 2009, now works as an adviser to the Republican Jewish Coalition. He was one of three candidates in the highly publicized 2008 senate election in which the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a ruling declaring comedian Al Franken the winner of the seat.

Coleman will not actually be at the convention, but has recorded a video message in which he welcomes all members of the GOP into the Republican tent.

Although originally listed as a speaker, Fox News correspondent Margaret Hoover will not be attending the convention. Cooper said her cancellation had nothing to do with the group’s social agenda.

Those interested in the event can register at Logcabin.org.

FULL CONVENTION PROGRAM:

Log Cabin Republicans National Convention and Liberty Education Forum National Symposium Program

WHAT:
Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans is holding its 2011 National Convention, in coordination with the Liberty Education Forum’s National Symposium.

WHO:
Alan Kittleman, State Senator (R, MD)
Alex Nicholson, Executive Director, Servicemembers United
Audra Shay, Executive Director, Project GOPink
Bob Barr, Former Congressman (R, GA)
Bob Kabel, Chairman, DC GOP
Chuck Wolfe, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund
Dan Woods, Partner, White & Case
Dan Zwonitzer, State Representative (R, WY)
Dave Nalle, National Chairman, Republican Leadership Council
David Lampo, Political Director, LCR Virginia
Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry
Fred Karger, presidential candidate
Jeff Cook, Allegiance Strategies
Kristen Silverberg, Former Ambassador to the European Union
Len Olds, Chairman Emeritus, Liberty Education Forum
Lupe Valdez, Dallas County Sheriff
Mark Groombridge, United Against a Nuclear Iran
Meg Ten Eyck, Education Manager, The Trevor Project
Mike Gin, Mayor of Redondo Beach and candidate for Congress
Mitchell Gold, Founder, Faith in America
Ned Farr, Director, “A Marine Story”
Richard Grenell, Former Communications Director to the U.S. mission to the United Nations
Richard Tisiei, former State Senator (R, MA)
Roy Ashburn, former State Senator (R, CA)
S. E. Cupp, Conservative political commentator
Sarah Longwell, Berman & Co.
Scott Schmidt, President, LCR Los Angeles

WHERE:
Hilton Anatole
2201 Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX, 75207
214-748-1200

WHEN:
April 28 – May 1, 2011

Friday, April 29
9:00 am- 9:45 am
Reagan’s 80-20 Rule: Building new coalitions in our common goal of creating a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party. (Sarah Longwell, and Audra Shay, Dave Nalle)

10:15 am-11:00 am
Ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ An inside look at Log Cabin Republicans’ legal and legislative challenges to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (Dan Woods, R. Clarke Cooper, Alex Nicholson)

11:05am-11:55 am
Issues Around The Corner. Priorities being tackled by state and local leaders. (Jeff Cook, David Lampo, Evan Wolfson, State Rep. Dan Zwonitzer)

12:10pm-2:00pm
Log Cabin Republicans National Luncheon with remarks by Senator Richard Tisei & Senator Allan Kittleman, with recorded greeting by Congressman Pete Sessions. Introductions provided by Chuck Wolfe of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and R. Clarke Cooper of Log Cabin Republicans.

2:15 pm-3:15 pm
Foreign Policy Discussion. An in-depth look at global hot spots with leading foreign policy experts (Richard Grenell and Amb. Kristin Silverberg).

3:20 pm-4:15 pm
On the inside: Leading as Republicans. (Sen. Roy Ashburn, Scott Schmidt, DC Republican Party Chairman Bob Kabel, Presidential Candidate Fred Karger)

Saturday, April 30

9:30 am- 10:25 am
No Longer In Silence, Where We Are in 2011. A discussion of past Liberty Education Forum programs and looking forward to programs for 2011.

10:50am – 11:45am
Faith in America. Mitchell Gold speaks about his organization and book, “Crisis: 40 Stories of Growing Up Gay in America.”

11:55am – 12:55pm
Liberty Education Forum Luncheon featuring Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry and Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Film Screening: A Marine Story Followed byQ&A with Film Director Ned Farr

3:15 pm- 4:00 pm
It Gets Better. Overcoming bullying and discrimination with Meg Ten Eyck of the Trevor Project.

6:00-9:30 pm
Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner with remarks by S.E. Cupp & Congressman Bob Barr and recorded greeting by Senator Norm Coleman.

—  John Wright

Sheriff Lupe Valdez, a Democrat, on why she’s going to the Log Cabin Republicans Convention

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

The Log Cabin Republicans will hold their National Convention in Dallas this coming weekend, and we’ll have a full story in Friday’s print edition. But because the convention actually begins Thursday, we figured we’d go ahead and post the full program sent out by the group earlier this week.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the program is a scheduled appearance by gay Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who is of course a Democrat.

Valdez, who’ll be one of the featured speakers at a Saturday luncheon, contacted us this week to explain her decision to accept the invitation from Log Cabin (not that we necessarily felt it warranted an explanation). Here’s what she said: 

“We have more things in common than we have differences, but it seems like in politics we constantly dwell on our differences,” Valdez said. “If we continue to dwell on our differences, all we’re going to do is fight. If we try to work on our common issues, we’ll be able to accomplish some things.”

On that note, below is the full program. For more information or to register, go here.

—  John Wright

Mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky, Equality Texas’ Dennis Coleman to appear at Log Cabin tonight

Ron Natinsky

District 12 Dallas City Councilman Ron Natinsky, who’s running for mayor, will make an appearance tonight at the monthly meeting of Log Cabin Republicans, according to LCR President Rob Schlein.

Also speaking at the meeting will be Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman.

Schlein said he expects a good turnout for the meeting, which is at 6:30 p.m. at Mattito’s Cafe Mexicano, 3011 Routh St.

—  John Wright

Despite court order, the military is still enforcing ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ — at least in Texas

Omar Lopez, who was kicked out of the Navy in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” tried to re-enlist on Wednesday but was turned away at a recruiting office in Austin.

Sometime Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly will request an emergency stay of Tuesday’s federal district court ruling ordering the military to halt enforcement of “don’t ask don’t tell.” And in the meantime, it would appear as though the Department of Defense is openly defying the ruling, perhaps putting the federal government in contempt of court. The New York Times reported Thursday:

But with the ultimate fate of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule still unclear, some celebrations are being delayed.

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”

The NYT report prompted a letter from the attorney for Log Cabin Republicans, which brought the lawsuit, to the Department of Justice:

“Please let us know immediately what steps the government has taken to communicate the terms and requirements of the Court’s order to military personnel, including field commanders and military recruiting offices, who are in a position to violate the requirements of the injunction under the cover of ignorance of its terms or existence,” wrote LCR attorney Dan Woods.

—  John Wright

Some radical ideas about the DADT ruling

This week, a federal court judge issued an extreme ruling regarding “don’t ask don’t tell”: An injunction, forbidding the U.S. military from enforcing the policy worldwide. As part of the ruling, she gave the government up to 60 days to appeal. Attorneys for the Log Cabin Republicans, which brought the lawsuit, have counseled caution, discouraging servicemembers from coming out.

Now, it’s been a long while since I practiced law actively, but I have some ideas radical ideas about how those in the military should approach this ruling.

COME OUT NOW. I know the LCR doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but here’s the thing: It is, for now, the law. Just like years ago, when San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., declared they would recognize same-sex marriages and performed dozens of them, the act itself has repercussions. The courts had to decide the legality, but in the interim, who could say they were not legal?

Relatedly, everyone who got married in California after same-sex marriage was allowed but before Prop 8 was passed were deemed to be legally and forever married. Those unions were not negatively affected from legal recognition by Prop 8. I would argue that anyone who does come out in reliance on a federal ruling cannot later be discharged, anymore than someone who drives 30 mph can be given a ticket a year retroactively later when they change the speed to 25.

It also provides the Obama administration with political cover. Obama claims to want to discontinue DADT, but is relying, disgustingly, on some bullshit “study” before acting. (The details of that study offend me to the core, as it will evaluate such things as whether gay troops should be given “separate living facilities” or whether the other servicemembers will be “OK with it.” Since when did the military care what grunts think, or act like a democracy? What if a soldier is gay but doesn’t want to come out — should he be forced to so he can be segregated in the pink barracks? It’s really very easy: The ruling should be “gay troops are no different than any others; effectively immediately, they are treated identically.” So if they wouldn’t do something for single gays or gay couples they do for straight singles or couples, don’t do it.) But Obama does not have to appeal the ruling; he shouldn’t. Let the courts decide it for him. Continue on with the legislative agenda just in case, but don’t appeal the ruling.

HOLD OBAMA TO HIS PROMISES. I mean this in the most threatening way possible. If the Obama administration does appeal the ruling, I personally will do everything in my power to throw my support to someone else. If a black man who is president cannot stand up for minorities and keep the promises he made the gay community as a candidate, he does not deserve my financial support. Or my vote. This is a test, Brarack: If you fail it, do not expect to get extra credit from me.

I know there are many out there who’ll say, “you’d prefer a Republican over a Democrat in the White House?” No. But I know this: If my rights are trod by someone who doesn’t have the political will to respect me, I don’t care what political party he or she is a member of. Keep in mind: DADT and DOMA were signed by Clinton; the first sitting president to express any support for civil unions for gays was W. (Granted, W did it in the context of opposing marriage, but Clinton never came out in favor of it, and even counseled John Kerry in 2004 to come out against civil unions! “The gays will forgive you and it might help you win,” he supposedly said. Shameful.)

We are at the brink of huge changes in the law and recognition for gay rights at a level I could not have conceived when I was a college student. This is no time to back down. This is the time to fight. Bloody some noses. Shame people into acknowledging their own bigotry. Because I assure you, in 50 years, public high school students will look back on how the current culture treated gays with the same puzzled disgust that we look on Jim Crow laws. Orville Faubus and George Wallace were probably more popular in public opinion polls in their day than Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. And how many streets have you seen named after Faubus and Wallace?

This is the time to create our heroes, our Rosa Parkses. Don’t shy away, guys. Don’t go to the back of the bus. Come out and say “In accordance with a federal order, I am saying I am gay. What are you gonna do about it?” Because right now, they can’t. And even if they can down the road, they will appear vindictive to discharge those with the courage to come out later.

Obama pledged change we can believe in. We’re ready for the change, Mr. President. Keep your word.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Will Cornyn remember Log Cabin singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to his wife next time he screws us?

Our first report from Wednesday night’s Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner comes from The Standard-Times of San Angelo. Anti-gay Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who accepted an award from the gay GOP group and spoke at a reception prior to the dinner, reportedly told them he was amazed at the controversy surrounding his appearance there:

“I guess perhaps it speaks to the times we find ourselves in where people are so unwilling to find grounds of commonality where we do agree despite some honest differences and firmly held differences of opinion,” Cornyn told about 60 guests at the Log Cabin Republicans Political Action Committee.

They listened, clapping enthusiastically at times, to the Senate’s chief fundraiser the day after the social conservative voted to block the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian people serving in the military. The LCR is leading a legal fight to repeal the ban.

Cornyn also opposes same-sex marriage.

The event was closed to the press, but an audio recording showed that those attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Cornyn’s wife, Sandy, after he told them it was her birthday Tuesday.

“I’m sure you have made her day,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in the recording provided by an attendee of the PAC reception.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright