- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

PHILADELPHIA The same delegates to the Republican National Convention here who silently protested the presence of an admitted homosexual on the dais promise to be more forgiving to vice-presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney's lesbian daughter.
"We're not electing his daughter," said Daniel Pickens, a delegate from Garland, Texas. "To win this election, some of us may have to get into the boat together."
Mr. Pickens and several fellow Texas delegates were more disturbed by the choice of Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe as one of the convention's Tuesday night speakers.
It was the first time an avowed homosexual had ever addressed the Republican National Convention. Mr. Kolbe spoke briefly about international trade and made no mention of his sexual preference.
The 248-member Texas delegation got riled enough that some of them staged a silent demonstration against Mr. Kolbe. With TV cameras capturing their protest, some sat down while others took off their cowboy hats and prayed.
"The news reports said he was given the spot because he was homosexual," said Kelly Shackelford, a delegate from Allen, Texas. "The people I talked to, that's what they were concerned about."
He prayed during the Kolbe speech, but did not remove his hat. "My goal was to pray for the Republican National Committee to get a backbone and stand up for its beliefs," he said.
Most delegates objected to the Kolbe appearance as an "in-your-face" gesture but felt that Miss Cheney had gotten swept into the national limelight through no fault of her own.
"Mary Cheney is a non-issue," said Texas delegate Frank Cox. "People have always been homosexuals."
The demonstration against Mr. Kolbe, he said, was "kind of word of mouth. A lot of people weren't clapping. But they didn't want to outshout the opposition like the Democrats would have."
"If Cheney's daughter is a lesbian, I have no problem with that," said delegate David Kent of Bryan, Texas. "I had a little bit of a problem with someone getting up and speaking at the convention.
"I got word to sit back and pray and take your hat off. And that's what I did," Mr. Kent said. "I could tell the delegation wasn't too wild about his talk, but we didn't want to disrupt things."
Florence Shapiro, a state senator, estimated only 20 took part, and "you had to be sitting next to someone" to realize it was taking place.
David Greer, Pennsylvania state chairman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual group, said Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told a pro-choice group over breakfast Thursday that she deliberately sat on the aisle during Mr. Kolbe's speech so she could stand and applaud.
"It was an insignificant protest," Mr. Greer said. "The party was going to honor him as an expert in international trade."
Mr. Greer criticized efforts to pressure Miss Cheney to act as a liaison between homosexuals and the Bush campaign.
"People are hoping to recreate a Candace Gingrich situation but that's not going to happen," he said, referring to the half-sister of former House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich, who publicly opposed her brother.
"Mary Cheney living the life she does is a powerful symbol of inclusion and family values," he said. "The first thing she said, when her dad was picked, was 'I love my father.' Some people are saying she is being muzzled, but that's not what I hear.
"If they were muzzling her," he continued, "she would not be at this convention. In the gay community, Mary Cheney has become an instant celebrity. She didn't ask to be put in this position, so I think we should afford her some time so she can adjust to the situation she's in."

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