John Cornyn and Gay Republicans

by Dan Quinn

Here’s something not many folks expected to see: Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn will speak in September at a national fundraiser for Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay GOP members.

John Cornyn? The same guy who opposes same-sex marriage and the repeal of the ban on gay and lesbian members in the military? Yeah, same guy. Also the same guy who said this a few years ago in support of a federal constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage:

“It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife.”

So has hell frozen over? Nah, says Sen. Cornyn:

“Some things we won’t agree on,” Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said. “But I think it’s always better to talk and then try find those things we can agree on rather than just assume there’s no common ground whatsoever.”

Cornyn said same-sex mar­riage is “absolutely” one of those things he and LCR members don’t agree on, but he’s happy to talk to them.

“I don’t want people to misun­derstand and think that I don’t respect the dignity of every human being regardless of sexu­al orientation,” Cornyn said.

Respect the dignity of every human being? Is that before or after you equate their relationships to bestiality?

We suspect religious-righters will soon be foaming at the mouth and condemning Cornyn’s supposed apostasy. But Log Cabin officials, like executive director R. Clarke Cooper, are pleased:

“(O)ur role within the party is to help educate current elected leaders … and also educate candidates as to how they can be still true to themselves as far as issues, as far as core conservative, back-to-basics issues without using the gay and lesbian community as a target.”

Golly. Such high expectations, yes?

But surely Cooper knows that the Republican Party base today believes targeting the gay and lesbian community IS a “core conservative, back-to-basics issue.” Take a look at the Texas Republican Party platform, for example. Dominated by religious-righters, the party passed a 2010 platform that opposes not just same-sex marriage and even health insurance or retirement benefits for the same-sex partners of employees. It also condemns gay people as threats to family, public health and society. The platform also supports criminalizing consensual, intimate relationships of same-sex couples. And it opposes the right of gay and lesbian parents to adopt a child or even have custody of their own children.

Is it a good thing that a Republican like Sen. Cornyn has agreed to speak at a gay event? Of course. Change can begin with small moves. But he has some explaining to do. If Log Cabin Republicans respect their own dignity as human beings, they have a responsibility to insist that Sen. Cornyn do just that. And they should insist that the senator publicly reject the criticism he and Log Cabin will get from the religious right.

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