CA GOP recognizes Log Cabin

Timothy Kincaid

March 2nd, 2015


Log Cabin Republicans was founded in 1977 in Southern California to oppose a ballot initiative that would have banned gays and lesbians – and those who supported them – from holding the position of teacher in a California public school. Log Cabin was able to marshal support from what was called ‘country club Republicans’, and eventually, after former GOP Governor Ronald Reagan took a stance in opposition, the Briggs Initiative was defeated by a vote of 58% to 42%.

In the 38 years since that time, Log Cabin has had varying times of success. As the Republican Party turned more and more to social issues and adopted opposition to gay rights as a fundraising and voter rallying point, LCR took an an odd role. Candidates for offices often used the political shorthand of supporting or denouncing Log Cabin to publicly identify with either the right-wing social activist or the fiscal conservative wing of the party.

And Log Cabin grew. First within California and then, in the 90s, into a nationwide organization.

In the beginning, LCR’s position within the community was often welcomed and respected. As co-founders of California’s LIFE Lobby, which provided one of the first full-time gay lobbyists to a state legislature, Log Cabin utilized its perspective and partisan language to appeal to Republican legislators. And Log Cabin forged relationships within other growing national groups.

But over time, national groups began to see themselves as more aligned with progressive ideology and, rather than strictly advancing legislation that dealt with matters impacting gay people, instead saw their place as partners in a progressive movement. As this movement drifted further towards the left side of the Democratic Party, there was less and less commonality with Log Cabin and eventually the organization separated itself from the nominally non-partisan joint efforts.

Log Cabin turned, instead, to a tactic that had been used successfully by social conservatives in the past. They became grassroots activists. Turning to county central committees and structures within the GOP, they sought to influence and change the presumptions of ‘the base’.

And Log Cabin has made visibility within the party a priority, knowing that simply being in the room could change the rhetoric.

Some places they found harsh opposition. The Texas GOP has proudly waved its bigotry and homophobia like a banner. New England was much more welcoming.

In California, the group has had a mixed record. In some years, statewide candidates have been supportive, in others homophobia has ruled the day.

For many years there has been a battle within the state GOP for control of the party and its image. Some wanted the GOP to be a voice for fiscal conservatism and others wanted to champion theocracy. As the latter gained more influence, the party as a whole lost power.

The Legislature has seen a constant decline in GOP representatives as moderates and independents in the state have found the Party’s positions to be harsh and not reflective of their views. Currently Democrats have a super-majority in both the Assembly and the State Senate and the GOP holds no statewide elected office.

In this climate, the statewide party structure has not been historically supportive of the gay group. They have never been banned from visibility in state conventions – and one of the best attended social events has always been the Log Cabin party.

And in several counties, Log Cabin has had chartered recognition and gay Republicans pretty much keep the party going in some places. But access to statewide decision making has been limited.

However over the weekend there came an important change (LA Times)

The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.

This is more than just a polite acceptance. As an official part of the structure of the California Republican Party, Log Cabin gains rights and access on the same terms as other volunteer organizations. They now have a vote on the State Central Committee and a voice in establishing party policy.

This move did not come without opposition.

Some opponents said Log Cabin’s proposal was sneaked onto the convention agenda without notice, and that the group violates the party’s by-laws, which forbid the recognition of organizations focused on “lifestyle preferences.”

“The only thing I ask is this body stand on the rules we’ve supported for two decades that say there is a process to change the rules and the bylaws,” Assemblywoman Shannon Grove repeatedly pleaded during the hearing.

And Grove is correct. Anti-gay factions in the party had specifically changed language in the past to exclude the possibility of Log Cabin’s inclusion. This seems, however, to have been ignored by 75% of the delegates to the convention.

It is difficult to know exactly what this says about the future of the California Republican Party. Symbolically, this may send a message that the theocrats have finally lost. It may be the first step in the dismantling of bigotry and exclusion within the California Republican Party.

Or it may simply be a middle ground. This may be an indication that party members want a ‘balance’ that allows for gay people to be in the room but keeps policies and positions as hostile.

I’m inclined to see this as reflective of significant change. Because the vote was so large and because it was vehemently fought by the far right contingent, this seems to be to be a major gain for the party’s moderate faction.


March 2nd, 2015

I see this as piecemeal that changes nothing. The official policy of the california gop is this: “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

This is a calculated political move and does not mean that there is a change in ideology or view towards gay people.

“The Republican Party’s registration rolls have fallen to about 28 percent statewide, and third party status is just around the corner. Schwieren expects the number of independent voters to overtake Republicans “probably within the next year or two years.””

I also just love the naivety or just plain bullshit in the statement by one of the LCR. ““The fringe does not control the party anymore. We truly are a big tent once again.” The fringe is no longer the fringe in the GOP. The “fring” is what makes gop candidates try running as far right as they can so far right that they can never seem sane again.

Richard Rush

March 2nd, 2015

As Lord_Byron noted, the party platform of the California GOP still says “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

So, in other words, the California GOP is saying . . .

“We now love homosexuals for their vote, but we still loath them for the life they promote.”


March 2nd, 2015

Lord_Byron, the language in your quote raises a question: when was the last time the CA GOP visited this particular part of their official policy? The use of the phrase “partner benefits” suggests they haven’t revised it since mid-2013 (i.e. same-sex marriage successfully banned, ban not yet overturned). That, in turn, raises another question: Is the CA GOP about to revise their policy/platform? If so, might this be a prelude to changing that language?

Regardless, the party has to make significant changes to survive CA’s new top-two primary system, which opens primaries to all voters, who choose from among all potential candidates. The top two vote-getters in the primary are the ones the run in the final election, regardless of party affiliation. This reduces the effectiveness of the party fringe, and could lock Republicans out of state-wide elections completely if they don’t start making real changes. Even if this is a cynical attempt to garner votes without making real changes, the idea will quickly fail them, likely within one election cycle.

enough already

March 2nd, 2015

Fascinating. I rather hope this splits the Republican party, and that, really badly.


March 2nd, 2015


I think it’s even older than 2013.


March 3rd, 2015

Thanks for the historical context of the Log Cabin group, Timothy. This is the first time I see it explained.


March 3rd, 2015

Perhaps being nice to LCR will win back some Republicans who consider themselves Republicans, but have been voting Democratic due to the far right swing of California’s current Republican candidates.

But the real decline in the California GOP goes to Wilson’s success in painting the party anti-immigrant/anti-Hispanic in a state that has a rapidly growing Hispanic citizen voter population.

California’s GOP has problems with lots of groups, but their problems with Hispanic voters are far and away their biggest obstacle to becoming relevant again.

Ben in oakland

March 3rd, 2015

I sent this to the Chronicle yesterday. They chose not to publish it.

The hypocritical antics of the Republican Party, at least as concern power and money, never cease to amaze me. Two articles in today’s Chronicle underline this.

In 2006, the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature put an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot, which was duly passed by voters. When that amendment was recently overturned by a Federal court, Republican legislative and executive politicians wailed loudly about the will of the voters being overturned by “judicial tyranny.”

In 2000, Arizona voters passed another constitutional amendment, taking redistricting away from that same Legislature, placing it into the hands of an independent commission. Now the Arizona Legislature has taken the matter to the Supreme Court in an effort to overturn the voters’ will on good government. No weeping, wailing, or cries of judicial tyranny this time!

Meanwhile, California Republicans voted to charter the gay Log Cabin Republicans, despite their party platform: “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption.”

In other words: “We still loathe them, but love their votes, money, and ability to convince young voters we’re not bigots.”

It boggles the mind.

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2015


perhaps we need to give the CAGOP the opportunity to vote on changes in their platform and bylaws before we insist they are hypocrites. Perhaps they are just part way through the process.

If there is a language battle and the far right wins, then indeed the party is trying to have it both ways. But it may be that this is merely the first battle to change the party, that moderates and allies won, and that the future will be one of inclusion.

In other words, we are going to have to wait and see.

Big Al in NY

March 3rd, 2015

LCR has consistently kissed the Republican party’s ass, as when it backed Dole, who in ’96 had only this contribution to the public’s information on the issues: “Homosexuality is wrong.” Period.
It never seems to occur to them that supporting pro-LGBT Democratic candidates at times, might be a way to defeat the more far-right Republicans and bring the party to its senses.
And I can’t forget that they may well have contributed to the Florida fiasco in 2000 that gave us all the obscenity of eight years of Bush.
I think LCR’s idea of a “place at the table” for our community, is that of a hungry, whining dog desperately licking everyone’s fingers in hopes of getting a few pathetic scraps.


March 4th, 2015

There was this vomit-inducing quote from the LCR ED (panelist) at CPAC (topic was “Putin’s Russia: A New Cold War?”):

“This is the reality today in Putin’s Russia. It’s the difference between United States leaders like Ronald Reagan and backwards thinking Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin.”

Full Story at:

For all of the credit that “St. Ronnie” deserves for opposing the Briggs Initiative, as President he did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to improve the lives of LGBT Americans and did much to harm us through apathy, avoidance, and kowtowing to Jessie Helms’ and Strom Thurmond’s bigotry.


March 4th, 2015

Rose-colored glasses isn’t even the half of it when it comes to LCRs. I think it’s full blindfold…


March 4th, 2015

P.S. I believe CPAC had panelists praising Putin and his policies/leadership less than two years ago. I don’t care enough to research that, but he was all the talk of Fox for several years. I think Sean Hannity wanted to marry him (but not in a gay way).

P.P.S. Because it was CPAC and because it was the sycophantic, have-to-please-daddy LCR, there was plenty of obligatory Pres. Obama-bashing for “inaction” and “indifference”.


March 4th, 2015

Timothy, I have to ask, but doesn’t it bother you that this appears to be a purely political move on the part of cagop? The fact remains that up to the last election, and still to today, the cagop platform is one that states they oppose the rights of gay couples. Which means that the cagop has discrimination as a platform of their party. Not entirely sure how party platforms are agreed upon, but if it is by votes that means that a majority of the party thinks it is a good idea to discriminate.

Timothy Kincaid

March 4th, 2015


All moves by all political parties are political moves. By definition.

There is a process by which revisions to the platform are proposed, reviewed and revised in committee, presented to the floor, and subjected to a vote.

When the anti-gay provisions were included, the majority of the delegates definitely thought it was a good idea to discriminate. This past weekend three quarters of them decided to stop excluding LCR.

We’ll have to see what happens when proposals to strip the homophobic language are presented.

Priya Lynn

March 4th, 2015

“All moves by all political parties are political moves. By definition.”

I disagree. In the context Byron and most of use it in, a political move is one that is solely intended to improve a parties votes in the next election. Moves that don’t do that, or that most likely lose a party votes in the next election are not political moves. Once in a blue moon parties or politicians take stances that hurt them, those aren’t political moves.

Priya Lynn

March 4th, 2015

If they made this move to get more votes, its a political move. If they did it because its morally correct regardless of how it affects votes then its not a political move.


March 5th, 2015

I’m a progressive, but my partner’s a Republican who has been very involved in the CA GOP for a number of years. Based on what I know from her, this is part of a larger attempt to change the party on this issue, one that many, many people heavily involved with the party, most of them allies, have wanted and have fought for over many years, due to a sincere belief that it is the right thing to do. The cynical thing would have been to avoid it in order to not anger their older voting base. But activists in the GOP are mostly drawn from younger generations and share most of their generational cohorts’ attitudes about LGBT issues.


March 5th, 2015

Jen, the question is who statistically votes republican. There might be some well meaning people, but the fact is that for many people the GOP is a repulsive party not only for their stance on marriage equality, but also things like their views on women and latinos. Is the GOP willing to risk alienating a voting block that largely votes for them and wins them seats in the midterms just to possibly get some younger voters? My initial reaction is that this will not bring young people into the party and they will probably still keep the homophobic language.


March 5th, 2015

Lord_Byron, you bring up a very good point, but you should see the Catch 22 it creates. With voters increasingly disenchanted with the electoral process, primaries have been ceded to the most extreme party voters, which of course encourages a further sense of futility for the average voter when the general elections role around. Actual change must happen, or the GOP will permanently alienate younger voters, even as their base dies off.

You are also bringing up national trends when talking about a state organization. The youth trends might be more extreme in California, and the potential gain far greater than the loss of the loyal base. Especially considering California is not known to be the bastion of any major, conservative religious branch.

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