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Inside Politics

Activist accuses GOP of 'attacking gays'

Head of gay GOP group Log Republicans lashes out

Patrick Guerierro, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, speaks on CNN's "American Morning" Friday.
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Patrick Guerierro
Log Cabin Republicans
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America Votes 2004

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The head of the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican group slammed fellow Republicans Friday for "feigning outrage" over comments by Sen. John Kerry, and called on President Bush to "stop attacking gay families on the campaign trail."

Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said Democratic presidential nominee Kerry was "not wise" to refer to the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney during the answer to a question about homosexuality during a presidential debate Wednesday night. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, the debates)

But he said Republicans "who are expressing outrage at the debate comments really have been outrageous themselves."

"The reality is the type of outrage that is being expressed by some Republicans should be expressed at themselves. They've decided to use gay families as wedge issues across America in swing states -- that is truly outrageous," he told CNN's "American Morning."

The comments come as Republicans continue to criticize Kerry over the mention, and Democrats accuse the Bush-Cheney ticket of trying to create an uproar in order to avoid talking about major issues and Kerry's success in the debate.

A CNN/USA Today/ Gallup poll taken immediately after the debate found Kerry the winner by a wide margin. (CNN Poll: Early survey gives Kerry the edge)

Democrats also say the vice president has brought up the sexuality of his daughter and campaign manager Mary Cheney on the campaign trail.

The Log Cabin Republicans have withheld their endorsement in the presidential race after clashing with Bush over several issues, including a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

The group also launched complaints over the Republican Party's platform, adopted before the party's convention in August, which rejects benefits for same-sex couples and rejects allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

Guerriero said members of his group are "insulted by a campaign that has attempted to amend the Constitution, and in too many states we've seen discriminatory amendments that would deny hospital visitation and domestic partnership legislation."

He also pointed to fliers that the Republican National Committee sent to voters in Arkansas and Virginia, which say "banned" over a picture of the Bible and "allowed" over a picture of a man apparently proposing marriage to another man.

The fliers warn: "Liberals want to impose their values" on the state.

Guerriero said the fliers "equate gay and lesbian families with those folks who would want to ban the Bible."

Republican officials have said the fliers were expressing concern over what Bush calls "activist judges." But Guerriero called the mailings part of "low-ball politics."

"The big story in this election is that Karl Rove has decided to strategically use gay and lesbian Americans in a number of swing states," Guerriero said. Rove is Bush's chief political strategist.

"The same people who are feigning outrage about what happened in the debate should speak out against that type of political gamesmanship," Guerriero added.

During the debate, Cheney thanked Sen. John Edwards for his "kind words" after the Democratic vice presidential nominee praised the relationship between Cheney and his daughter during the answer to a question about homosexuality. But spokespeople for the Bush-Cheney ticket later said Edwards' move was inappropriate.

On Wednesday night, moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS asked Bush and Kerry whether they believe homosexuality is a choice.

Bush said he did not know.

Kerry said, "We're all God's children, Bob. And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was, she's being who she was born as."

Cheney and his wife both slammed Kerry. The vice president said Kerry was "out of line;" Lynne Cheney called him "not a good man." (Cheneys indignant about Kerry remark)

"Of course I am speaking as a mom -- and a pretty indignant mom -- and this is not a good man," she said. "What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

Kerry responded, saying in a statement, "I love my daughters. They love their daughter. I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue."

Elizabeth Edwards, the senator's wife, said in a radio interview that Lynne Cheney's response "indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences. ... It makes me really sad."

Guerriero said he believed Mrs. Edwards went "over the line," noting that the Cheneys clearly "love their daughter, they've recognized her publicly."

He encouraged Sens. Kerry and Edwards to "make their case for gay and lesbian fairness" without mentioning Mary Cheney.

And, he said, "the president and Karl Rove should stop attacking gay families on the campaign trail."

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