What’s Left – Taking the Log Cabin to the Outhouse

The Log Cabin Republicans, the country’s preeminent GLBT Republican party, endorsed Senator John McCain last week in the days prior to the Republican Convention in Minneapolis. An interesting and important dialogue has emerged in American politics through the last few election cycles – one that emphasizes crucial issues like healthcare, education, and social security over divisive social issues like gay marriage, abortion, and the death penalty.

Although I do agree with the proposed shift in focus, this is a liberal column, and I will be the first to admit that I have a general bias against Senator McCain. However, as a progressive and as a member of the gay community, I cannot manage to wrap my brain around the fact that a pro-GLBT organization has endorsed an anti-GLBT ticket.

According to the Log Cabin Republicans’ official website, the organization’s mission is “to work within the Republican Party to advocate equal rights for all Americans, including gays and lesbians.” Bearing this in mind, it becomes difficult to understand how the endorsement of a McCain/Palin ticket furthers the organization’s mission.

We needn’t look beyond McCain’s recent voting record on GLBT issues to understand the threat that a McCain/Palin White House poses to gay and lesbian Americans. McCain opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA], which would have made it illegal to fire someone on the basis of his or her sexuality. He also voted against hate crimes legislation to protect GLBT Americans. Additionally, McCain has continued to support “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, preventing GLBT Americans from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The McCain camp has spoken out in favor of Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in front of California voters this November to overturn the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage. During the Clinton administration, McCain was an ardent supporter of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages as being equal to heterosexual marriage and protects states from having to accept a marriage (same-sex or otherwise) as being legal when performed in another state.

According to Patrick Sammon, President of the Log Cabin Republicans, “On the most important issue that LGBT Americans faced in the last decade – the federal marriage amendment — Senator John McCain stood with us.” One vote — the Log Cabin Republicans have substantiated their support for Mr. McCain based on one vote, his opposition to amend the Constitution to make same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

While I am certainly not a scholar of Constitutional law, I will never forget what I learned in my high school history class. The American Constitution was designed to protect our rights and never to limit them. The Log Cabin organization can argue that McCain stood “with us” all they want, but at the end of the day he was doing nothing more than fulfilling his duty to the Constitution as a civil servant.

Mr. Sammon’s suggestion that same-sex marriage is the most important issue within the GLBT community is sorely delusional. He seems to be forgetting that one can still be fired in 30 states for being lesbian, gay or bisexual and in 38 states for being transsexual. He also seems to forget that each and every day GLBT Americans are targets of crime because of their sexuality, and there is nothing that can be done to protect them. Or perhaps he is just choosing to ignore that McCain has supported cutting funding for HIV-prevention programs targeted at the GLBT community. Whatever it is that has left Mr. Sammon so misguided is doing a great disservice to gay and lesbian Americans, whether they are Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise.

Our politics and our country will benefit if we shift the focus of this November’s election cycle towards crucial issues like education and healthcare. I can appreciate that many Americans — homosexual or heterosexual — stand with McCain on the most important issues that face our country today. However, I am challenged in my humanity to understand how somebody could support a candidate whose policies counteract the very idea that all people are created equal.