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Ad challenges GOP's stand on gay rights

Gay Republican group: 'Radical right has hijacked the party'

From Steve Brusk
CNN

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Log Cabin Republicans discuss the group's position at a meeting last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Calling language in the Republican Party's platform "vicious and mean-spirited," a group of gay and lesbian Republicans launched a television ad Monday aimed at challenging national convention delegates to change the party's direction.

"The radical right has hijacked the party, and we're fighting back," Bill Brownson, a spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, said at a news conference.

The party's platform, adopted in advance of the convention, rejects not only same-sex marriage but also benefits for same-sex couples. It also rejects letting openly gay people serve in the military, and does not offer a "unity plank," which would encourage respect for Republicans who disagree with the party majority on social issues. (Special report: America Votes 2004, the Republican convention)

Log Cabin officials described themselves as "angry" and "frustrated."

The ad, featuring words from Ronald Reagan, began running in New York on Monday afternoon to reach convention delegates. The group has posted an appeal for donations on its Web site to finance the ads.

The ad begins with audio of Reagan saying, "Whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears."

A narrator then says, "History will record the Republican Party's choice. Will we unite on the things that matter most, like winning the war on terror? Or will we divide the American family with the politics of intolerance and fear that only lead to hate? Our choice is clear."

In the latter part of the ad, around the reference to "intolerance and fear," images of conservative commentator Pat Buchanan, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, and Sen. Rick Santorum are shown. All three are social conservatives who oppose recognizing same-sex marriage and benefits for same-sex couples.

"We are here in the best tradition of Ronald Reagan, begging the party to do the right thing," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, at Monday's news conference. "The party cannot have it both ways. This is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party."

Guerriero said the "final straw" for his group was what he termed "insulting" language in the Republican platform opposing same-sex marriage and saying that homosexuality is "incompatible" with military service. The committee drafting the platform also rejected a "unity" plank offered by the Log Cabin Republicans and another GOP group that supports abortion rights.

Noting that the 1 million gay and lesbian votes President Bush received in 2000, according to exit polls, could be vital for the president's re-election, Guerriero said the platform will drive away "fair-minded voters."

"The president and our party should be uniting all Americans and not dividing them," he said.

However, Guerriero said that his group did not expect to launch a floor fight at the convention over the platform language.


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