- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2000

LOS ANGELES Republicans may be divided nationally between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain, but that split doesn't approach the depth of the divide within the California Republican Party over tomorrow's vote on Proposition 22.
The ballot initiative would forbid California from recognizing same-sex "marriages," no matter where they're performed.
Like Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain, both of whom say that marriage should be only between men and women, most leaders of the party in California support Proposition 22, known locally as the Knight Initiative after its prime sponsor, Republican state Sen. Pete Knight.
But Rep. Tom Campbell, the party's almost certain candidate for the U.S. Senate, opposes the measure fervently. So does University of California Regent Ward Connerly, the most visible leader of the national fight against affirmative action.
"I support two people having the right to do whatever they want to do," Mr. Connerly said.
Mr. Campbell, meanwhile, was hissed during one February debate with his primary election opponents when he declared that his opposition to Proposition 22 "has nothing to do with homosexuality, necessarily." He said he does not want to prevent people from getting the benefits of marriage if they are willing to commit to one another.
But the Republican state leadership firmly supports the initiative.
State Chairman John McGraw and all current party officers applauded loudly at a prayer breakfast during a recent state party convention, when Bill Bright, co-founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ, equated homosexual lifestyles to Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Bright argued that, like them, the United States would be "expelling God" if it accepts homosexuality as normal and would "pay the same price."
"God doesn't tolerate the way we are living today, embracing all kinds of evil," he said.
Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Steve Soboroff are among other major Republicans joining Mr. Campbell and Mr. Connerly in opposing the measure.
Polls indicate the measure will likely pass easily, with one San Francisco Examiner survey showing it had 56 percent support two weeks before tomorrow's vote.
The Republican split comes along almost the identical fault lines that have long divided the state party over abortion rights.
"What you see is symptomatic of the problems the party has had for the past five years," said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant and former party official. "The question here is how to broaden the base of the party when the core is so intense on certain issues."
But supporters of Proposition 22 say the measure's Republican foes are a mere fringe group, even if one of them leads every poll in the Senate race by a wide margin.
"The party officially supports 22, and 56 members of the legislature and our congressional delegation also support it," said Julio Calderon, a spokesman for the yes-on-22 campaign. The GOP has 81 persons serving in those positions today, out of a total of 174.
Mr. Connerly says such widespread Republican support for Proposition 22 will hurt the party's outreach to independents and conservative Democrats.
"We may have a more difficult time than the Democrats because some think it is written somewhere that we should oppress gays," he said. "Some people invoke the Bible and don't think it through. But Democrats come out against the initiative and then dance around the real issues."
Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley both oppose Proposition 22, but say they disapprove of same-sex "marriage."

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