Gay Republican notes past speakers critical of president; event coordinators rebuff idea
Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas will be a “ruby” sponsor of the 2007 Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner benefiting the Human Rights Campaign at the Adam’s Mark Hotel on Nov. 17, according to a statement issued by the gay political group.
The development may surprise some because although HRC is a nonpartisan group, its leaders are often viewed as allies of the Democratic Party and critical of Republican policies. And the Black Tie Dinner, which benefits local LGBT service organizations along with HRC, often includes speakers who rail against Republicans and President Bush.
This year’s speaker, firebrand peace activist and actor Martin Sheen, is likely to engage in a little Bush-whacking as well, given the state of the war in Iraq.
Robert Schlein, president of the gay Republican group, said in a statement that he and other members of the group want to show solidarity with other gay Republicans who attend the event every year.
“We [will] also endeavor to moderate the tone of some who speak at the Black Tie Dinner and use it as a platform for their political opinions,” Schlein said. “We seek a conciliatory tenor when speaking of our president, Republicans in general, and specifically the role of Log Cabin.”
Toning down the rhetoric of Sheen, who has been arrested 70 times because of his participation in public demonstrations, may prove to be something of a challenge. Of course, he will be paid handsomely for his appearance at the fundraiser so maybe that might give Black Tie Dinner coordinators some leverage if they were on board with the gay Republican group’s agenda.
But that appears not to be the case. Black Tie Dinner coordinators indicated they knew nothing about Log Cabin Republicans’ plans to influence the text of speakers’ speeches.
Deiadra Burns, co-chair of this year’s fundraiser, said the coordinators were pleased to have Log Cabin Republicans join as a sponsor but there would be no effort to influence what the speakers say. She notes that speakers are informed of the event’s mission to raise money for the beneficiaries through entertainment, education and empowerment.
“Ultimately, we do not control what our speakers may actually say during the event,” Burns said in a statement. “We recognize we have a diverse audience and strive to produce a diverse event for all guests to enjoy.”
A ruby sponsor is the next to lowest level of sponsorship of the event, indicating a contribution of between $6,500 and $12,499, according to the fundraiser’s Web site. The event netted $1.35 million last year, according to coordinators.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 22, 2007.