Sunday, April 18, 2004

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Homosexual Republicans are stung by President Bush’s support for a ban on same-sex “marriages” and are divided over where to turn in November, with many weighing party loyalty against outrage.

“I’m going to have a hard time going with Bush. In my good conscience, I don’t know how I can support him,” said Shawn Gardner, one of several hundred party members attending this weekend’s annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual organization that backed Mr. Bush in 2000.

“It’s difficult for me to reconcile him having turned his back on an organization that supported him,” said Mr. Gardner, who was among an estimated 1 million homosexuals who voted for the president four years ago.

Many homosexuals see the proposed amendment banning same-sex “marriage” as an assault on equal rights.

“The nation is in the midst of a culture war, and conservative gays and lesbians are on the front line,” said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the organization. “We have shifted all of our resources and energy to protect the Constitution from being messed with.”

The president has jeopardized what should have been an automatic endorsement from the group, Mr. Guerriero said.

Mr. Bush called for speedy enactment of an amendment banning same-sex “marriage” after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to prevent same-sex couples from “marrying.”

Chris Barron, political director for the Log Cabin Republicans, said it’s not clear whether the group will endorse Mr. Bush. A decision by its 23-member board is expected around the time of the Republican National Convention in New York, which begins Aug. 30.

“We would never endorse a Democrat,” Mr. Barron said.

If homosexuals desert Mr. Bush in November, it’s not clear how much it would hurt him. Several states with a large homosexual turnout voted solidly Democratic in 2000, including New York, California and Massachusetts.

Exit polls in 2000 found Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore received 75 percent of the votes from self-identified homosexuals, with Mr. Bush picking up 25 percent.

John Karczynski, vice chairman of the Orange County chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he was disappointed by Mr. Bush’s support for the amendment, but that he and a lot of homosexual Republicans intend to stay with Mr. Bush.

They will vote “with their eyes closed,” Mr. Karczynski added.

Recent national polls have found at least half of Americans oppose homosexual “marriages,” but fewer support amending the Constitution to ban it.

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