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Agema won’t attend RNC winter meeting

GOP, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Dave Agema won’t show for the RNC winter meeting after facing criticism over his anti-gay views.

A member of the Republican National Committee who has taken considerable heat from members of his own party for expressing anti-gay views is skipping the upcoming GOP meeting in D.C.

As first reported by the Detroit Free Press, Dave Agema, a former lawmaker in the Michigan House, has opted out of coming to D.C. for the RNC winter meeting, citing concerns over “liberal critics” within his ranks.

“My liberal critics within the Republican Party have chosen to elevate this discussion to the RNC meeting and make it a drawn-out fight between liberals and conservatives within the party,” Agema was quoted as saying. “For this reason, I have decided it is best for the party that I not attend the meeting this week and instead, I have sent a proxy who will vote how I want on rules.”

Kirsten Kukowski, an RNC spokesperson, confirmed for the Washington Blade that Agema won’t attend the meeting — which is set to take place between Thursday and Saturday — and will send in his place Chuck Yob, a former RNC member.

Agema skips the meeting amid calls for him to step down and for the RNC to oust him from his membership. RNC Chair Reince Preibus has said Agema’s comments “don’t represent the Republican Party.”

Dennis Lennox, a Republican precinct delegate in Grand Traverse County in Michigan who’s been vocal in calling for Agema’s ouster, said the embattled Republican’s absence demonstrates he’s unfit for his position.

“By avoiding his responsibility to represent Michigan Republicans on the Republican National Committee, Dave Agema has made it clear he does not care about our party,” Lennox said. “It’s time for Dave Agema to do what’s right and abdicate.”

Agema’s absence at the RNC meeting isn’t the same thing as resignation from his post, but it raises questions about whether he can keep his position within the Republican Party. The Detroit Free Press quoted a Republican Party source as saying Agema hadn’t submitted his resignation as of Wednesday.

Over the past year, numerous media reports have emerged of Agema expressing anti-gay views, which has riled both gay Republicans and senior members of the party.

In Facebook postings, he’s called Russia’s controversial anti-gay propaganda law “common sense” and posted an article titled “Everyone Should Know These Statistics on Homosexuals” that depicts gays as sexually promiscuous and rife with sexually transmitted diseases.

At a Republican fundraiser in Michigan, Agema reportedly said he’s seen gay people working for American Airlines falsely claim to have HIV-infected partners to obtain spousal health coverage. Agema also sponsored a resolution approved by the RNC in April reaffirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

But Agema’s comments aren’t limited to anti-gay views. According to, Agema also posted an old online attack piece questioning whether Muslims have contributed anything positive to American society.

After being criticized publicly by former Michigan Republican Party chair Betsy Devos and after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made a veiled attack on him during his State of the State address, Agema responded in another Facebook posting, saying he merely intended to “encourage discourse” with his remarks.

But criticism within his own party didn’t let up. Reps. Candace Miller (R-Mich.), Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) this week each called on Agema to give up his position within the Republican Party.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, has previously called on Agema to resign and said his no-show at the winter meeting demonstrates his views are out-of-sync with his party’s.

“Clearly Agema is feeling the heat,” Angelo said. “And if Dave Agema thinks Fred Upton, Rick Snyder and Justin Amash and others condemning his remarks are ‘liberals,’ we should all have reason to suspect what his definition of ‘conservative’ is.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is taking pot shots at the Republican Party over the Agema imbroglio, saying the embattled member’s views represent the GOP’s failure to embrace LGBT equality.

“Dave Agema’s rhetoric is hateful and has no place in the public discourse,” said DNC spokesperson Ian Sams. “But his position as a Republican National Committee member exemplifies the failure of the GOP to change its opposition to basic equality for all Americans, regardless of who they love. Predictably, Republicans see Dave Agema as a messaging problem. But until the GOP fully embraces LGBT equality, they will continue to be rejected by Americans, just like they were in the last election.”


GOP lawmakers to receive ‘gay’ Christmas present

David Lampo, Robert Kabel, A Fundamental Freedom, libertarian, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay libertarian author David Lampo, pictured on left with Bob Kabel, wrote ‘A Fundamental Freedom.’ (Photo courtesy of David Lampo)

The Liberty Education Forum, an organization that advocates for acceptance of gays among conservatives and people of faith, plans to deliver a Christmas present to each Republican member of Congress and all members of the Republican National Committee.

A statement released by the group says the present will be a copy of the 2012 book, “A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights,” by gay libertarian author David Lampo.

“I wrote ‘A Fundamental Freedom’ to educate conservatives on gay issues, and to make sure that support for equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans among conservatives, libertarians, and members of the GOP is more prevalent than one might think,” Lampo said in the statement.

“Embracing equality for gays and lesbians is in line with the history of the Republican Party,” he said. “I can think of no better group to share this message with than the RNC and all GOP members of Congress.”

According to Gregory Angelo, executive director of both Liberty Education Forum and Log Cabin Republicans, the books will be accompanied by a “Dear Colleague” cover letter written by gay RNC Committeeman Bob Kabel.

“As a gay member of the Reagan administration and the first openly gay Party Chairman and now Committeeman on the RNC, I felt it was important to let my fellow members of the RNC know that you can be both a strong Republican and a supporter of equal rights for gay Americans,” Kabel said.


Log Cabin official to head GOP in D.C.

Robert Turner II, Log Cabin Republicans

Outgoing D.C. Log Cabin Republicans President Robert Turner II. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Robert Turner, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Washington, D.C., is expected to step down from that post later this month to become executive director of the D.C. Republican Committee.

Turner was to be appointed to the executive director’s position by Ron Phillips, who was the strong favorite to win election on Jan. 10 as chair of the 126-member DCRC, which serves as the governing body of the city’s Republican Party.

Turner would replace Nick Jeffress, the executive director who resigned at the end of last year and was appointed by outgoing DCRC Chair Robert Kabel.

Kabel, who’s gay and is the former president of the board of the national group Log Cabin Republicans, won election last year as one of D.C.’s representatives on the Republican National Committee. He’s ineligible for another term as DCRC chair because of a term limit rule.

Turner is believed to be the first out gay to serve as executive director of a state or D.C. Republican Party committee.

A native of Austin, Texas, Turner moved to D.C. in 1995 to work as a congressional staff member before starting his own political consulting company, The Turner Group.

He also serves on the board of Capital Pride Alliance, the governing body in charge of running D.C.’s annual Capital Pride parade and festival.

Turner said voter outreach would be his top priority when he assumes the day-to-day operations of the DCRC.

“Most people who live in D.C. either think the party doesn’t exist or it’s a joke,” he said of the city’s Republican Party.

“And we need to change that mentality,” he said. “We need to show that we are a viable alternative to the corruption in the Wilson Building. We need to talk to voters, first and foremost, and see what their ideas are and then show them how the Republican Party of D.C. can jell with their ideas.”

He said the DCRC’s top priority in the first part of this year is to help elect GOP candidate Patrick Mara, the current Ward 1 school board member, to the City Council in a special election in April to fill an at-large seat.

The seat became vacant when Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) won election as Council chair. The seat was filled last month on a temporary basis under city election rules when the D.C. Democratic State Committee appointed its chair, Anita Bonds, as interim Council member until the special election is held on April 23.

Mara is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and testified before the Council in 2009 in support of the city’s same-sex marriage bill, which passed in the Council later that year.

Turner said he believes Mara has a shot at winning the special election if Republican and independent voters as well as a sizable number of gays who supported Mara in the past turn out in large numbers.

“There are 30,000 Republicans and 350,000 Democrats,” he said in pointing to the city’s voter registration rolls. “But there’s also about 80,000 registered independents that we can tap into, and a lot of those voters are disaffected voters.”

Turner was quick to reply when asked what he thinks the national Republican Party should do in the wake of President Obama’s defeat of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney.

“Well, the first thing the party needs to do is talk to more people than straight, white men,” he said. “There are women, gays. There are minorities out there who believe in the principles of the Republican Party – of less government, less taxes, less regulations and a strong military. Let’s talk to those people and show them Republican Party ideals work in tandem with their principles as individuals.”


Revisiting sinners of the past

Over the past 10 years, I’ve often used this space to target and critique a series of anti-LGBT figures — from politicians to criminals to closeted celebrities. My attacks have ranged from stinging to the occasional angry full-on takedown. It’s remarkable how much things have changed for the LGBT movement in those 10 years. So a quick look back at some of my favorite targets of the last decade and how they have evolved during that time.

1. The Democratic National Committee. This might seem an unexpected target, but the reality is that the party’s support for LGBT rights and legislation is an Obama phenomenon. From Bill Clinton’s support for DOMA to Howard Dean’s firing of a gay liaison and other shenanigans (pitting black delegates against gay ones, denigrating the gay press and threatening to sue the Blade), the Democratic Party has a complicated history with our community. Obama deserves the credit for turning around that sorry record. Today, the Democratic Party includes marriage equality in its platform. Ten years ago, there had been no movement on pro-LGBT federal legislation. Today, we have an expanded hate crimes law and have repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” DOMA is next to go.

2. The Bush administration. George W. Bush became the gay community’s public enemy No. 1 after his cynical assault on marriage equality in 2004, a crusade masterminded in part by former RNC Chair and Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman. The Bush years were ugly, from his calls for a federal marriage amendment to an odd and stubborn refusal to even utter the word “gay” in public. Ten years later, Mehlman is out of the closet and raising money to support marriage equality. Dick Cheney supports marriage equality, as does Laura Bush. And George has paid a steep price for his horrendous, reckless presidency — relegated to the dustbin of history and rendered persona non grata at last year’s Republican National Convention. He is rightly blamed for the country’s economic mess and will be remembered as among the worst presidents in American history.

3. Martin O’Malley. Another unlikely target, considering O’Malley was popular with LGBT residents of Baltimore from his days as a City Council member and mayor. He even endorsed marriage equality in a TV interview years before running for governor. He later disavowed that interview and was booed off the stage at a private LGBT donor gathering after advocating for civil unions over full marriage rights. After a 2007 court ruling limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, O’Malley issued a cruel, stinging statement invoking the Catholic sacraments and reiterating a call for civil unions. But after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo successfully shepherded marriage through a Republican Senate there, O’Malley had an epiphany and adopted full-throated support for the cause. He was a latecomer, but ultimately played a key role in passage of the bill and of the subsequent ballot measure last year. He’s now a rumored 2016 presidential aspirant (along with Cuomo).

4. Religion. Perhaps the greatest force opposed to our full equality, organized religion gets a lot of ink. From the attacks of Pope Benedict to the reparative therapy efforts of Scientology, religions (and cults in the case of Scientology) remain a key threat to LGBT people. But even that’s changing. If you visit a local Catholic church, you’ll find openly LGBT people in the pews and gay support groups operating. And they have something to celebrate with the news this week that Benedict is stepping down after nearly eight years of anti-gay pronouncements. More and more religions are moderating their views on our full inclusion in church life, including in marriage. Evangelical Lutherans now recognize the same-sex relationships of church leaders; the U.S. Episcopal Church allows same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal. There’s a long way to go to full acceptance, of course, but progress is undeniable and change is happening at a brisk pace.

5. Anderson Cooper & Jodie Foster. Closeted rich and famous people have come in for a healthy dose of criticism on this page over the years. After all, if the wealthiest and most successful among us won’t come out, how can we expect the schoolteacher in Alabama or the construction worker in Iowa to do the same? Cooper and Foster became the poster children for the closet but in the last year, both publicly came out. Better late than never, right? Maybe Shepard Smith and Queen Latifah will follow their lead.

6. Mark Foley & Larry Craig. The Blade wrote about Foley’s sexual orientation for years before he was forced to publicly acknowledge the truth after his page scandal. Craig’s story is more twisted but both ultimately got what they deserved. Their names haven’t appeared in the Blade for years — two relics of a closeted past. Good riddance. Now if only Lindsay Graham would come out.

Even after all that progress, there’s still no shortage of organizations and public figures to take to task — think Sam Arora, Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins and the National Organization for Marriage. And our work is far from complete. We need a federal law outlawing anti-LGBT employment discrimination; a stop to religion-based bigotry; and an openly gay professional athlete would be nice, too. But the list of our enemies is a lot shorter than it was 10 years ago. Here’s to the next 10 years of progress.

Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at


Takano calls on Obama to speak out on Prop 8

Mark Takano, United States House, California, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) is calling on President Obama to participate in the Prop 8 case (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A freshman openly gay member of Congress from California is calling on President Obama to participate in litigation challenging Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court as the administration has done in the DOMA case.

In a letter dated Feb. 26, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) asks President Obama to instruct his Justice Department to argue Prop 8 is unconstitutional on the basis it should be subjected to heightened scrutiny — or a greater assumption it’s unconstitutional — just as it did in a brief filed last week in the case against the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I strongly and respectfully ask that the United States provide an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Perry to explain how heightened scrutiny, the standard that the United States urges be applied to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, applies to Proposition 8,” Takano writes. “A brief by the United States will assist the Supreme Court to see that Proposition 8 fails heightened scrutiny and does not further any proper governmental objectives.”

Takano explains in his letter that Prop 8, a ballot initiative that was approved by California voters in 2008, affects couples in his state and district who are unable to marry because of the amendment.

“My district includes thousands of loving gay and lesbian couples, who are not able to marry due to Proposition 8,” Takano writes. “They are our families, our friends and neighbors. They are doctors, veterans, teachers, gardeners, firefighters and police officers. They are Americans. Every day that they cannot enjoy the same rights and obligations enjoyed by other Americans, they and their families suffer.”

The White House has repeatedly declined comment on whether it’ll participate in the Prop 8 lawsuit before the Supreme Court, although President Obama has said Solicitor Donald Verrilli is “looking” at filing a brief. In response to the Takano letter, a White House spokesperson deferred comment to the Justice Department, which didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment.

Other LGBT advocates have been calling on President Obama to participate in the Prop 8 case, known as Hollingsworth v. Perry, by filing a friend-of-the-court brief. The deadline for them to file a friend-of-the-court brief is Thursday.

Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, announced on Monday that his organization shares the desire for Obama to participate in the Prop 8 case.

“President Obama has already weighed in on DOMA, but as he himself said in his inaugural address: ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,’” Graddick said. “With less than four days left to act, it is time for the administration to make its views known directly to the U.S. Supreme Court by filing a friend of the court brief in the Proposition 8 case as well.”

Takano’s letter comes on the same day as The New York Times reported that more than 75 prominent Republicans have signed their own friend-of-court brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.

Among the signers of that brief is Ken Mehlman, the gay former chair of the Republican National Committee, who is credited with organizing the brief. Another signature is from Hewlett-Packard CEO and former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who campaigned in support of Prop 8.

Two Republican members of Congress who have sponsored legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) — are also among the signers. They are the only two Republicans currently holding federal office who signed the brief.

Other signers are former Utah governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, who publicly came out in favor of marriage equality last week, as well as GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, who helped with John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and came out in support of marriage equality in a 2009 interview with the Washington Blade.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, said the brief as reported by the New York Times reflects the growing support for marriage equality — even within the Republican Party.

“A who’s who of the Republican Party has come before the Supreme Court to affirm that support for the freedom to marry is a mainstream position that reflects American values of freedom, family, and fairness, as well as conservative values of limited government and personal responsibility,” Wolfson said. “As opposition to the freedom to marry becomes increasingly isolated and the exclusion from marriage increasingly indefensible, Americans all across the political spectrum are saying it’s time to end marriage discrimination, do right by families, and get our country on the right side of history.”


Cato legal analyst: DOMA is dead

The Cato Institute (Photo by Matt Bisanz via Wikimedia)

The Cato Institute (Photo by Matt Bisanz via Wikimedia)

A senior fellow with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that supports LGBT equality, said comments by U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday lead him to believe the high court will strike down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA.

Cato Institute senior fellow Ilya Shapiro, who attended Wednesday’s oral arguments at the high court, said the court’s four liberal justices would likely invoke the Constitution’s “equal protection” clause as grounds for overturning DOMA’s Section 3, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Shapiro said comments made by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the court’s swing vote on DOMA, indicate Kennedy would vote to strike down DOMA based on grounds that it violates “federalism” or states’ rights protections under the constitution.

Assuming Kennedy joins liberal leaning Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan in voting to declare Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional, the five would become a majority on the nine-member court needed to strike down that provision of DOMA, according to Shapiro.

“Assuming they get past the jurisdictional arguments it seems like DOMA Section 3 is not long for this world,” he said.

Shapiro gave his assessment on the justices’ views on DOMA at a Cato Institute forum Wednesday afternoon called Law, Politics, and Same-Sex Marriage.

Others panelists speaking at the forum included Walter Olson, a Cato Institute fellow, who served as moderator; Evan Wolfson, executive director of the same-sex marriage advocacy group Freedom to Marry; and Ken Mehlman, a York City businessman and former chair of the Republican National Committee.

Wolfson attended Wednesday’s Supreme Court oral arguments on DOMA as well as the arguments before the court one day earlier on California’s Proposition 8 case, which legal experts say could potentially lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in all fifty states.

He told the forum that making predictions about how the court will rule on a case based on the justices’ statements and questions during oral arguments is highly speculative.

“I think you really need to take every prediction you hear and read and see tweeted and re-tweeted very, very skeptically,” Wolfson said. “The justices are going to go back and delve through a mountain of briefs in both cases, a huge amount of evidence and argument.”

While the outcome of both the Prop 8 and DOMA cases is uncertain, there are things marriage equality advocates know “very, very clearly,” Wolfson said.

“One thing we know is that while the justices are doing their homework in going through the process, the best single way we can maximize winning the freedom to marry and even getting the justices encouraged to do the right thing as they deliberate now in the court is to do what we’ve been doing, which is to continue winning in more states and to continue winning over more hearts and minds,” he said.

“There are as many as four states that are going to be considering or have begun considering freedom to marry legislation and could pass those bills into law before the court hands down its decision likely at the end of June,” Wolfson said. “So the single biggest thing we can do to maximize the chances of winning are to pass those marriage bills and to continue growing the extraordinary ‘who’s who’ of Americans that have stepped up the last many weeks and months in supporting the freedom to marry.”

Ken Mehlman, gay news, Washington Blade

Ken Mehlman (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Mehlman, who’s gay and who has emerged as an outspoken same-sex marriage advocate in recent years, said that aside from using sound legal arguments, marriage equality advocates have made important advances by putting a human face on the same-sex couples who want the right to marry.

“In my judgment, what has so galvanized the public is our stories,” he said. “These are real stories about real people and they make a gigantic difference.”

He said the numerous “friend-of-the-court” or amicus briefs filed in support of the marriage equality side by a wide range of organizations also shows how the breadth of support for same-sex marriage has greatly expanded.

The Cato Institute is among the groups that have filed an amicus brief in support of striking down DOMA.

“It’s not just that it is a large number,” he said of the groups and individuals filing amicus briefs. “It’s the cross section of society. It’s military leaders. It’s religious leaders. It’s business leaders. It’s Republicans and conservatives. It’s leaders of excellent think tanks — all making the case from their perspective and why it makes sense,” Mehlman said.


RNC approves resolution against same-sex marriage

Reince Priebus, Rebpublican National Committee, RNC, Republican Party, GOP, Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade

RNC Chair Reince Priebus oversaw the approval of a resolution affirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Republican National Committee approved on Friday a resolution affirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Multiple media outlets, including Bloomberg News, reported that RNC members approved the resolution during day two of their three-day spring meeting, which this year was held in Hollywood, Calif., under RNC Chair Reince Priebus. According to Log Cabin Republicans, the measure was approved by voice vote as part of a group of other resolutions.

The language of the resolution was earlier this week obtained by Yahoo! News. It reads, “[T]he Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.”

According to Politico, the resolution was sponsored by Michigan Republican Party Chair Dave Agema, who recently came under fire for a Facebook post making false and offensive claims about gay people, including that they have shorter life spans than others.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, dismissed the importance of the resolution, but predicted actions such as approving anti-gay measures would lead to continued losses for the Republican Party.

“The platform is clear about the party’s position on marriage, so the resolution wasn’t necessary,” LaSalvia said. “This resolution was motivated by anti-gay bigotry and brought forward by RNC members who just don’t like gay people. Tolerating this kind of bigotry will only serve to turn off more and more voters, and until the leadership of the RNC is willing to confront and denounce bigotry in its own ranks, they will continue to lose elections. I guess they are not finished losing.”

The resolution is in line with the 2012 Republican Party platform, which not only opposes same-sex marriage, but endorses a constitutional amendment banning gay nuptials.

But the vote also comes in the wake of an “autopsy” report saying the Republican Party must undertake greater outreach to the gay community — and other minority groups — to fare better in upcoming elections. Additionally, the move comes amid growing support for marriage equality nationwide and after two Republican U.S. senators — Rob Portman (Ohio) and Mark Kirk (Illinois) — announced their support for marriage equality.

On Friday, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll affirmed that a majority of the American public backs same-sex marriage. The poll found that 53 percent of Americans support marriage rights for gay couples, while 34 percent of the public is opposed. The same poll found 63 percent of respondents believe the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages that are already legal.

Meanwhile, social conservatives have been expressing outrage over what they perceive as the Republican Party’s abandonment of its opposition to same-sex marriage. Gary Bauer, a leader in the evangelical Christian movement and prominent conservative, has threatened to bolt the GOP and form a third party. A letter to the RNC obtained earlier this week by NBC News and signed by 13 social conservatives — including Bauer, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Phyliss Schlafly and James Dobson — warns that social conservatives will leave the Republican Party over marriage.

Still, some in the Republican Party who support same-sex marriage expressed outrage over the resolution in the wake of its passage. Among them was Liddy Huntsman, a leader of the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and daughter of former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr.

“As someone with high hopes for the GOP, I’m personally disappointed with this display of exclusion, especially at a moment when everyone – including party officials – acknowledge that we need a new direction,” Huntsman said in a statement. “We should be focused on a better future for all Americans, no matter who they love.”

Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said he’s “unphased” by the passage of the resolution because he doesn’t expect it to have an impact on the growing momentum in support of marriage equality.

“I don’t think that any resolution that’s going to pass is going to stop that momentum,” Angelo said. “And largely this is something that is ceremonial. If voting on a piece of paper that simply states that what we said in August of 2012 is the same thing that we’re saying in April of 2013, they can knock themselves out, but it’s not stopping the momentum that’s on our side.”

And the Democratic National Committee took the opportunity to remind the LGBT community of the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties.

“The differences between the two parties on issues important to the LGBT community are clear,” said DNC spokesperson Patrick Burgwinkle. “Once again Republicans have voted to enshrine as the policy of their party the discrimination of their fellow Americans. The Democratic Party is committed to supporting equal rights for all Americans and will continue to work with our allies in the LGBT community to advance the cause of equality for all Americans.”


Was gay member lone ‘no’ vote against RNC marriage resolution?

Bob Kabel, gay news, Washington Blade, Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans

Gay D.C. activist Bob Kabel says he voted against the anti-gay RNC marriage resolution. (Washington Blade photo by Henry Linser)

A gay member of the Republican National Committee may have been the lone person to oppose a resolution on Friday that included opposition to same-sex marriage.

Bob Kabel, a gay D.C. Republican activist, said he shouted “no” when the time came to vote on the group of resolutions that included the anti-gay measure — despite media reports saying they were passed unanimously. Kabel said he was unaware of any others among the 168 RNC members shouting “no” when the time came to approve the resolutions.

Kabel said the vote on the resolutions came up during the RNC meeting in Hollywood, Calif., after a motion was made to break them up so they could be voted on individually.

“That was done on a voice vote,” Kabel said. “I voted in favor of that, so that I could have voted specifically against this resolution. And then, as soon as his motion to do separate votes on each of the resolutions failed, we went immediately to voice vote. I voice voted ‘no.’ Apparently no one heard me.”

Kabel, a former special assistant on legislative affairs for President Reagan, has been active in the Republican Party for decades. Until recently, he served as chair of the D.C. Republican Party. Kabel is now a board member of Log Cabin Republicans and was among the 131 Republicans who signed an amicus brief against the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.

On the first day of the RNC meeting, Kabel said he spoke out against the proposed resolution — which he knew in advance was going to be submitted — during a members-only breakfast and let RNC members know he opposed it because he’s a gay man.

“As I told them during the members-only meeting, this is a mistake,” Kabel said. “At a minimum, the messaging has to change, and eventually the policy has to change.”

Kabel said he also opposed the resolution because opposition to same-sex marriage is already in the 2012 Republican Party platform and because it detracts from the RNC “autopsy” report that called for outreach into the gay community.

“The platform can’t be changed until 2016 when there’s a new platform committee constituted,” Kabel said. “But I also said in following up on what I thought was an excellent part of the ‘Growth & Opportunity Project’ report on messaging that it said that this hard and fast stand against gay marriage has done a lot of damage to the party with young people. And so, I said I didn’t see the point at all in simply restating what’s already in the platform, which we only adopted six months ago.”

Following his remarks, Kabel said a number of RNC members — which he said about 30 percent of them are new — came up to him and said they appreciated his remarks and that he had the courage to come out the entire Republican National Committee. Kabel said no one objected to his remarks.

“I had a number of members come up to me and say, ‘Not everybody knew you were gay, Bob,’” Kabel said. “It’s good for people to know that there’s any openly gay person as a member of RNC. And two, you made a very good point. We should just tamper down on all this stuff.”

Kabel said no one joined him in voting “no” against the resolutions — even though his remarks were well-received — likely because there were some good resolutions in the package, including one honoring a deceased RNC member.

The gay RNC member said the media attention that the resolution has received is “unfortunate” and he wouldn’t focus “too much on just one vote” in comparison to the Growth & Opportunity Project, which took the RNC months to put together.

“That report is the first time that I’ve ever seen an RNC document with term ‘gay’ used,” Kabel said. “It was used repeatedly in that messaging piece. I know it’s part of the process. The five members of the group that actually put it together traveled around the country and spoke to thousands and thousands of people. Log Cabin is always invited at the table of the RNC, but I know that they specifically talked to some of the Lob Cabin people about what to do.”