- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

NEW YORK — The Log Cabin Republicans threw a party for their fellow delegates yesterday, but three of the featured speakers didn’t show and of the four who did, two avoided references to homosexual rights.

But the early-afternoon reception in support of the Republican homosexual caucus did attract a surprise guest who didn’t mince words.

“There are a lot of prominent Republicans behind the gay and lesbian community, and that’s the way it should be,” Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told about 450 guests.

Whether his stance would get him votes in what’s projected to be a close Senate race in November, “I don’t know,” he said, “but when you talk about gay rights, you are talking about fundamental rights of equality, and you shouldn’t have votes on it.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld, now a New York investment banker, told the crowd, “you’re not going to repeal [the] biology” of same-sex attraction, in reference to his former state’s Supreme Judicial Court recognition of homosexual “marriage” in May.

“I think everything the Log Cabin stands for is in the best tradition of the Republican Party,” he added.

But four featured honorees — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift and Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — were all no-shows.

Organizers said the problem was schedule conflicts.

“All the speakers on the list wanted to be here,” spokesman Patrick Sammon said.

“We are confident the future of the [Republican] Party is in this room,” spokesman Christopher Barron said. “Either we put out a message of hope, or we get hijacked by the religious right with a message of fear and division.”

The speakers said nothing about the failed effort to put a plank in the party platform that acknowledged differences among Republicans on homosexuality.

New York Gov. George E. Pataki, who spoke to the gathering for five minutes, only referred to American “freedoms” under assault by terrorists.

“New York will always be a target, because we are a symbol of those freedoms,” he said.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, reception host, likewise skirted specifics about homosexual rights.

“The politics of inclusion are just as they were in Abraham Lincoln’s day,” he said. “We believe in a Republican Party devoted to its origins and devoted to liberty and justice for all Americans.”

Organizers estimated that 1 million homosexuals had voted for President Bush in 2000 and pointed to 50 openly homosexual Republican delegates to the convention.

One was Melissa Lauderdale, a lawyer from the District who is serving as an alternate and squiring her partner, Carley Ward, around the reception. The couple said they were “married” last fall at a Quaker church in the District.

President Bush’s support for the Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution almost made her skip the convention, Miss Lauderdale said.

“But I am committed to an inclusive Republican Party,” she added, “and if we had stayed home in Washington, no one would notice. So I am introducing people to my ‘wife.’”

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