This past weekend my eyes were opened to the good work of Log Cabin Republicans. I spent two days and nights at their annual convention in Denver and really loved it. I had never clearly gotten a sense of what LCR's mission was. Members had explained it to me (or rather tried to explain it) before, but it never sunk in. Listening to the speakers and talking with the convention-goers, I finally have a personal understanding of it: LCR's mission is to change how the Republican Party handles gay issues.
Many readers of this blog will be happy to know that I was just about the most conservative person at the convention, from what I could tell. On issues of hate-crimes legislation and abortion, it seemed everyone I talked with was to the left of me. But one of the themes of the weekend was part of Reagan's legacy: If we agree 80 percent of the time, you are not my enemy. It's something so many have lost sight of.
Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) spoke Friday and was fantastic, telling stories, mostly humorous, and really attacking the religious conservatives who have wielded so much power in the GOP in recent years. It struck me as odd that someone would attack members of his own party so vehemently. But, there is a battle for the heart of the GOP right now, and it's oddly encouraging to see.
The most wonderful part of the event was the handing out of their Uncommon Courage Award, presented to three Republican state legislators - Michigan State Representative Lorence Wenke, Wyoming State Representative Dan Zwonitzer, and New York State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward - who stood up for gay rights in the last year. It's pretty great stuff when (mostly) straight Republicans stand
The Colorado Springs Gazette quoted me from something I said about gay people leaving the Republican Party in a break-out session Friday morning.
I was invited by LCR President Patrick Sammon (above) to speak Saturday at the convention, introducing John Amaechi and talking about the state of gays in sports. The thrust of my talk was that there has been great progress for gays in sports, and there has been. Interestingly, a lot of people came up to me afterward, appreciated what I said, and said they had been longtime sports fans. One of them was Frank Ricchiazzi, known as the Godfather of LCR, who is a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan; he's a hoot.
Some of the other great people I met this weekend were Scott from BoiFromTroy; Luke from Arizona; Tommy D, a fun, sports-minded guy from SF; Andy from L.A.; Phil & Drew from South Carolina; a guy named Bobby Bottoms (no joke!); Frank, an Outsports member, from Denver; and a whole bunch of other folks.
I'm committed to getting more involved with LCR; now I just have to figure out how.