With their golden boy Rick Perry in trouble, anti-gay leaders to gather again in Texas

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Rick Santorum

Back in August, hundreds of evangelical leaders, including the likes of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, gathered on a ranch west of Austin to meet with Gov. Rick Perry, who had just launched his campaign for president and appeared to be their golden boy.

Five months later, after Perry’s fifth-place finish in Iowa, many of those same leaders will gather again next weekend on a ranch in Brenham, Texas — halfway between Austin and Houston — to decide whether they can unite behind another candidate in the GOP presidential race whose name isn’t Mitt Romney. And this time, Perry isn’t invited. The Christian Post reports:

An invitation that was sent on Wednesday read in part, “You and your spouse are cordially invited to a private meeting with national conservative leaders of faith at the ranch of Paul and Nancy Pressler near Brenham, Texas with the purpose of attempting to unite and come to a consensus on which Republican presidential candidate to support or which not to support.”

The group of evangelicals includes Don Wildmon, the former chairman of the American Family Association and a supporter of Newt Gingrich, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson.

“Yes, I received the invitation but I have decided not to attend,” said one prominent conservative leader who asked not to be identified.

“I know what they’re trying to accomplish but I don’t think anything is going to come out of it. There will be lots of discussion about [Rick] Santorum’s candidacy and even some who are going will advocate for [Newt] Gingrich and maybe a few who have holds that Perry can catch a second wind. But I just don’t see the group reaching a consensus,” he added.

Perry is polling at just 1 percent in New Hampshire, where he hasn’t campaigned, and 5 percent in South Carolina, where he plans to focus his efforts leading up to the Palmetto State’s Jan. 21 primary. According to The Washington Post, social conservatives fear that having too many right-wing candidates in the race will splinter the evangelical vote, allowing Romney to pull away. But it’s unlikely they’ll try to force anyone out until after South Carolina:

In an interview Friday with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Richard Land, a prominent Christian conservative and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that social conservative leaders are increasingly enthusiastic about Santorum — but they’re worried that his candidacy could face the same fate as Huckabee’s 2008 bid, which faltered in South Carolina as social conservatives splintered between the former Arkansas governor and former senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), allowing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to eke out a win.

“We don’t want to make the same mistake this time that we made with Huckabee in 2008,” Land said. “People didn’t rally around Huckabee as the social conservative alternative because they didn’t think he could win until it was too late, and McCain had the nomination sewed up.”

He noted that if one combined the vote totals of Santorum, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), “you would’ve out-voted Romney two-to-one in Iowa.”

“But because of the division among the conservative candidates, there is real concern that Romney will win without having to face one concentrated effort of a conservative challenger,” he said.

—  John Wright

Why I will vote Republican in 2012

If LGBTs really want to win equality, we must back the candidates that will help our pocketbooks, even if they take anti-LGBT positions

Robert Schlein
Special Contributor

I always give a five-minute speech at our monthly Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas meetings, and I was recently reviewing some of my remarks from July, 2008, when I asked the question, “What political price would my critics pay to resolve all of their gay civil rights issues? Would they accept any political doctrine, if it was bundled with promises of improvement in gay civil liberties?”

I said to our group that I didn’t want an America that looks like Europe: one that can’t generate enough jobs for its younger workforce, whose immigration policies have created many social ills and whose government-controlled socialized medicine results in less availability of care for all, and with the best care for only those who can afford to travel to another country.

America answered that question in 2008 — and unfortunately got it wrong. While the LGBT community finally secured some victories, what we got in exchange was bigger government, bigger debt and a much-worsened economy.

ObamaCare is an impending disaster that threatens our quality and availability of health care. The economy is stagnating because Obama and his administration seem to know little about capitalism or how to inspire confidence among those with cash to invest.

So again I ponder my question from 2008, because we Republicans will likely have a GOP candidate for president that saber-rattles his or her threat for a federal marriage amendment, or the reinstatement of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to placate the social conservatives.

Let’s be realistic, we Republicans need SoCons to win elections.

However, despite this pressure, our next Republican president will more than likely follow through instead on fiscal efforts to repeal ObamaCare, neuter the EPA’s hard work to shut down power plants that will severely hamper our economy (many in Texas), allow us to explore for oil domestically, steer us to a more balanced budget and get rid of the Dodd-Frank Banking bill that has caused cash-for-title loan stores to spring up like Texas ragweed.

For those who are upset at Rick Perry’s decision to sign the National Organization of Marriage’s pledge to move forward on an amendment to the Constitution, I say I’m willing to pay that price — a danger, in my view, that is as exaggerated as the reported threat of Hurricane Irene — in exchange for fiscal conservatism that is more likely to win the day and return us to prosperity.

After all, the process for amending the Constitution of the United States is so burdensome and so difficult, it seems to me the pledge to NOM is as empty as most men’s promises to stay monogamous until “death do us part.”

That said, I don’t believe that Rick Perry is our party’s best hope to beat Obama.

In the swing states that really matter — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — Mitt Romney, who has never been a great friend of Log Cabin’s, polls better. He’s one of them, and his dad was a very, very popular Michigan governor.

And if Jon Huntsman can organize some support he would be a brilliant choice, too.

But, we don’t get to decide in isolation who our nominee will be. By the time the candidates reach Texas, we will likely have our winner.

And, if that winner is Rick Perry, he can count on my vote and my vocal support.

We say in Log Cabin that “inclusion wins,” and we appreciate and welcome those with ideas that differ from our own.

All we can do is to try to elect people that can win who are most compatible with our views, and try to exert influence on those who differ, who do win.

For the LGBT community, economic power is the most liberating one. Paying your debts down, burning up your mortgage and having, pardon my language, some “screw  you” money in the bank — that stands the best chance to obtain the equality we seek.

For if it weren’t for a handful of very wealthy billionaires in New York who were with us, their Republican senate majority leader would have never passed gay marriage in that state.

Let me be clear on this: It wasn’t just Log Cabin. It wasn’t just the Human Rights Campaign.  It was former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlmen, PayPal founder Peter Thiel and their very rich allies that really got this done!

Because, at the end of the day, money is power. And we need to vote on the party that will best give us a chance to prosper, to accumulate wealth and, hence, all the power we need to accomplish our goals.

Obama has shown that he does not stand with those who seek economic prosperity and to accumulate wealth, and for this reason I will vote Republican —  even if Rick Perry is our nominee. And I hope you will, too.

Rob Schlein is president of the LGBT Republican group Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

GOP frontrunner Rick Perry tries to assure social conservatives that the gay rumors aren’t true

Gov. Rick Perry

In an apparent reference to longstanding rumors that he’s gay, Texas Gov. Rick Perry assured a group of influential social conservatives over the weekend that “there is nothing in my life that will embarrass you if you decide to support me for president,” according to this report from the Texas Tribune.

Perry spoke during a private gathering in Texas’ Hill Country attended by hundreds of social conservatives including several prominent anti-gay bigots, such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The gathering was organized by David Barton, the WallBuilders founder and so-called “Christian historian” who recently suggested that four Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of same-sex marriage in New York should be scalped.

According to the Tribune, those in attendance asked Perry about a range of hot-button social issues, including abortion, immigration, gay marriage and hate crimes. Perry’s wife, Anita, was even asked whether she shares her husband’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage, to which she replied that she does. From The Tribune:

While job creation is the chief campaign message, winning evangelical voters is a major part of Perry’s nomination strategy. Polls show they make up some 40 percent of the electorate in some states, and social conservatives are expected to play a huge role in the outcome of the race in first-test Iowa, where Perry is giving native daughter Michele Bachmann a run for her money. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an ordained minister, won the Iowa caucuses in 2008.

Research published last weekend by the Palm Beach Post shows that “white, born again evangelicals” also make up more than a third of the vote in the GOP electorate in Florida, a key state that is expected to draw a lot of attention from Perry.

Perkins, the Family Research Council president, said religious conservatives will increasingly become comfortable with the Texas governor once they get to know him and examine his record in detail.

“I think he has the answers that are satisfactory when those issues are brought up,” Perkins said. “I think he is addressing them with the leaders in that community and as that information disseminates, I think he will be fine.”

—  John Wright

Dallas Log Cabin President Rob Schlein explains why he’d support Gov. Rick Perry for president

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein
Rob Schlein

A few weeks back we reported that Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, plans to support Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president if he’s the Republican nominee — despite Perry’s anti-gay record.

Schlein says he used his regular remarks at the start of Log Cabin’s monthly meeting Monday night to explain why. Below is a transcript:

—  John Wright

GOP Senate candidate Tom Leppert tries to distance himself from fag-loving past in Dallas

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert just announced his resignation today (effective Friday), and he hasn’t even formally announced that he’s running for U.S. Senate in 2012. But Leppert has already started pandering to social conservatives as he prepares to seek the Republcian nomination for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat.

As you can see above, Leppert sent out an anti-gay tweet today in response to the Obama administration’s announcement that it will no longer defend a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court.

“Another mistake from Obama on DOMA,” Leppert tweeted. “We need leaders in Washington to stand for the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Clearly, Leppert is anxious to distance himself from his record in Dallas, where he hired an openly gay chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh, and appeared in two gay Pride parades. Being a big old fag-lover could seriously hurt Leppert in a statewide Republican primary, so he’ll have to work hard to prove how much of a bigot he is.

Leppert’s tweet is utterly disgusting, but it isn’t at all surprising.

—  John Wright

In midst of gay teen suicide crisis, Houston’s Kinkaid School removes Safe Space stickers

Texas Monthly‘s March issue features an interesting piece (already available online to subscribers) about the ideological battle that’s gripped Houston’s prestigious Kinkaid School since a parent — who also happened to be one of the highest-paid bankers on Wall Street — wrote an e-mail that went viral in 2009 complaining that the school had become too liberal.

Texas Monthly‘s John Spong concludes that in the aftermath of the e-mail, conservatives appear to have won the day at George W. Bush’s alma mater: At least three openly gay Kinkaid staffers have resigned their posts, sexual orientation is excluded from a new diversity policy at the school, and GLSEN Safe Space stickers were removed from classrooms and offices:

With gay suicides and bullying in national headlines, that move struck many as beyond tone-deaf. For them, the school’s reasoning—that the stickers implied that one group was more protected than others—showed greater concern for some people’s political views than for the welfare of vulnerable students. The same objection was raised when the board clarified its edict on “student exposure to issues relating to sexual orientation.” Faculty had pointed out that kids trying to understand their sexual identity often reach out to them; a gay Kinkaid alum I talked to credited one such teacher with saving his life. Could that conversation now get a teacher fired? The board stressed that the proper place for these sorts of conversations was at home or in a counselor’s office, adding that teachers were not to initiate those discussions. As one current faculty member put it, “We’re allowed to have those conversations; we’re just not allowed to tell the kids we’re allowed to have those conversations. That’s the thing that’s confusing.”

—  John Wright

A good sign for Texas’ LGBT community

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein

Joe Straus’ re-election as speaker of the House proves that social conservatives no longer can control the Republican political agenda

ROB SCHLEIN  |  Special Contributor

Unless you’re “wired in” to the inside baseball of Texas politics, you may not know there was a cantankerous fight for the position of Texas House speaker.

House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, showed himself to be a moderate on social issues last session. Yet, after a momentous midterm election where a slight Republican majority turned into a Republican supermajority in the House, calls for a “true conservative” to be elected speaker started to ring louder and louder among social conservative activists who regularly attend GOP party functions.

Many of these people are the same individuals that helped create the Republican Party of Texas platform that we all know too well includes the language on “homosexuals” revealed and discussed right here in Dallas Voice every election season.

State representatives who had already pledged to support Straus were being lobbied hard to reverse their support, via a war of words on Facebook, by those who changed their profile pictures with logos that declared “Oust Straus,” with statewide e-mail campaigns, and large, organized visits to field offices.

Precinct chairs in Harris, Denton and Dallas counties — perhaps others — convened during the holidays to pass resolutions demanding the election of a “conservative speaker,” implying that Joe Straus wasn’t conservative enough because of his social views.

Activists made threats to “primary,” which means to find someone to run in the next election season primary, against any Republican representatives that didn’t go along with their desire for change in leadership. Their bullying was amplified when hundreds of them descended on Austin on Jan. 10 to observe a caucus gathering of Republican representatives.

The caucus was demanded by the activists as a strategy to replace Straus by forcing a unified Republican vote, because last session Straus took over from Tom Craddick as speaker when Straus garnered the votes of all Democrats and just a handful of Republicans.

What the activists didn’t know was that the caucus would vote solidly for Straus, and after 70 votes were cast (representing more than two-thirds of the caucus present), voting was suspended and the choice was clearly made.
The social conservatives didn’t like the outcome and contradicted themselves about the process, first calling for an open ballot so they could see who voted for whom, and then complaining later that it should have been done in secret because the outcome might have differed.

The social conservatives were perplexed when their chosen candidate, Rep. Ken Paxton of McKinney, dropped from the race after assurances he would stay in, and after the other candidate, Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa, switched his support from Paxton to Straus.

On Jan. 11, when the formal selection of a House Speaker was concluded, calls for a recorded vote were made and approved, and more than 130 representatives voted for Joe Straus for speaker, with 15 “No” votes or abstentions — handing the social conservatives a serious defeat.

So, what does this mean for the LGBT community?

It means that there is a continual and growing disconnect between the hard-line social conservatives who are a part of the Republican Party of Texas, the average Republican voter and the actual Republican legislators who govern our state. This is good news for the LGBT community, which often fears possible legislation that could be put forward by the extreme elements of our party.

The selection of Joe Straus as speaker means that Republicans will focus most of their time and energy on balancing a state budget that is some $24 billion short over the next two years due to the slowdown of our economy, and will spend considerable effort reviewing programs that automatically sunset every session.

I would be quite surprised if the legislature spends much time on any social items.

Log Cabin Republican members spent considerable time getting to know their local state representatives. We offered direct support and encouragement for their initial pledges to Joe Straus, and were in continual contact by e-mail and very open in our Facebook rebuttals, asking them to stay loyal to their pledges.

Now our direct interaction with Republican elected officials is paying dividends in less anti-gay rhetoric in campaigns and no anti-gay legislation being proposed in this session that we are aware of.

The election of Joe Straus as speaker means that the impact of the Republican Party of Texas platform on legislation continues to be muted. Social conservative activists always complain that the legislators “never govern by the platform.”

So, when you ask gay Republicans about the platform, or if you point to the passages in the platform about “homosexuality,” understand that the re-election of Joe Straus confirms what we have been saying for some time now: The platform isn’t used as a legislative vehicle and only expresses the opinions of a small minority of people in the party who are loud, but not in the majority among everyday Republicans.

What matters to most Republican voters and legislators are the true principles of conservatism, meaning government stays out of our pockets and our bedrooms!

Rob Schlein is president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Sessions is missing the Log Cabin dinner to discuss the importance of ‘traditional marriage’

Earlier today we wrote about how Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions had backed out of a scheduled appearance tonight at the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner. In cancelling his appearance, Sessions cited another commitment — specifically a meeting of the House GOP Conference.

Irony of ironies, it turns out the GOP Conference will be meeting to discuss a brand new election year agenda to be unveiled Thursday that — surprise! — will include social issues and specifically a statement affirming the party’s support for “traditional marriage.”

From Politico:

House Republicans had a spirited debate behind closed doors about the degree to which social issues should be included in the new agenda, and social conservatives have been pressing for the GOP to be more explicit in putting social issues in writing on this 2010 agenda.

Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), winner of a 2012 presidential straw poll at the recent conservative Values Voters conference, led the campaign to ensure social issues would not be ignored. Some others believed that the plan should focus more narrowly on fiscal and security issues that unite a broader swath of the GOP.

The decision to at least affirm opposition to abortion and gay marriage appears to represent a compromise between the factions.

House Republicans will be able to review the new agenda this afternoon, after which they will discuss it at a conference meeting. Republican leaders will unveil it to the public Thursday morning.

Gee, we wonder which side of the “spirited debate” Sessions was on.

UPDATE: Via CBS News, below is a draft of the GOP’s new “Pledge To America”:

GOP Pledge to America

—  John Wright