Face-Off | Out Magazine

Face-Off

Face-Off

David Lampo
Publications director, Cato Institute, Washington D.C.
Age: 53
Vice president, Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia
Will vote for President George W. Bush in 2004

How long have you been involved with Log Cabin?

Id heard about it for years, and came on board right around the time of President Bushs first inauguration, in January 2001.

What made you join at that time?

Ive always been an activist and a small L libertarian. Then I became a Republican because I saw it as the only realistic outlet with a belief in libertarian principles. Albeit an imperfect outlet.

What do you mean by small L libertarian?

One who believes in a consistent philosophy of limited government, personal responsibility, and applies these principles across the board. Unlike liberals, who may believe in personal freedom in certain aspects of ones life, like sexual orientation or smoking marijuana or things of that nature, but favor big government in economic areas. Versus conservatives who are usually the reverse. That is, they typically believe in a free market and say they believe in limited government, but so many of them completely abandon those principles when it comes to personal freedom like sexual orientation, drugs, and a variety of other personal freedom issues. So a libertarian is really just a consistent conservative.

Whats it like coming out as a Republican among gay people?

You really can face as much hostility in that coming-out as you can with sexual orientation. [But] I have an excellent relationship with Equality Virginia (a nonpartisan group) and the Virginia Democratic group. Even though a certain segment of the gay community despises gay Republicans and Log Cabin, mainstream organizations realize were a valuable part of the community, and we work increasingly well together.

Did you support President Bush in 2000?

I did.

And now?

I still support him. I certainly have reservations. I dont see how you can be a gay man, a gay Republican, and not have reservations. My biggest reservation is his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, even though its a modified version thats not as harsh as the original one proposed. We are adamantly opposed to it; were adamantly campaigning against it. Its in spite of his support of the marriage amendment that I will still support him.
How do you reconcile your support with your reservations?

It goes back to the reason were Republicans to begin with. A lot of people say a gay Republican is an oxymoron. [But] back in the 2000 election, voter surveys showed that about 25% of self-identified gay voters supported Bush; 30% voted Republican in congressional races. My view is that most gay and lesbian voters tend to be one-dimensional voters. They vote Democrat because of the common perception that the Democratic Party is more in favor of gay rights. We are Republicans because we take a broader, more realistic view. We look at a whole set of issues, not just gay and lesbian issues. At the end of the day, when FMA is dead and gone, all the other issues that made us Republicans in the first place will still be there. We dont want to abandon the party or abandon Bush because of that particular issue when we believe in much of the rest of the Republican agenda. We have no illusions about the fact that a lot of the Republican Party is made up of the religious right types, and we battle them all the time. We are not about to abandon the Republican Party, which best represents our view, and give the party up to them. Were not about to give them the pleasure and satisfaction of leaving the party to them. The more we piss them off, the better we are reaching the broader Republican community.

Were you at Log Cabins annual convention in April, when the FMA was a leading topic on the agenda?

Yes. It was a gut-wrenching meeting. People stood up and poured their hearts out about how dare Bush and Karl Rove put us in this position, where we have right-wingers on one side pushing us out of the party with the FMA, and we have gay and lesbian Democrats on the other side saying, How can you support this man?

Is there anything that could happen between now and November that might make you decide not to vote for the president?

What I suspect is going to happen with the FMA is that hell make one or two more obligatory statements of support but wont do anything about it and wont put pressure on anybody [to vote for it]. He demanded that the language be changed so that it would not outlaw civil unions and domestic-partnership benefits at the state level. Its a marginal improvement, and we still dont want the amendment. But it could be a lot worse, as they say. Thats what I suspect is going to happen. It will die, and he wont do much to revive it or push it through. If, on the other hand, he suddenly went on the warpath to get this thing passed and tried to focus on gay marriage because things in Iraq are even worse than they are now, then I guess I would have to reconsider. We all have different levels of tolerance. At some point, if it gets bad enough, then I would abandon supporting him. I dont expect thats going to happen, and I think other issues will improve, such as the chaos in Iraq. The economy is doing very well. I think the Administration has done a terrible job of telling the American people it is doing well.
I think John Kerry and George Bush are much closer than most people realize. Kerry officially opposes the FMA, opposes gay marriage, and supports a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to ban gay marriage. The end result of both positions is that the federal government would not legalize gay marriage and it would be left up to the states. Im all for gay marriage. Despite the fact that civil unions are sort of apartheid, separate and unequal, thats what were going to have to live with. Just a few years ago they were considered a wacko idea, for liberal Vermont! Ive heard Christian Coalition leaders say, I can live with civil unions. Were so focused on gay marriage, I dont think gays and lesbians appreciate how much its moved our way. Weve taken so many steps forward, we should take a breather and realize things are actually much better than they were just a few years ago.
Kenneth Sanchez
Attorney in Boston
President, Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts
Age 27

How long have you been involved with Log Cabin?

Almost a year. I became president in March.

What made you join at that time?

I was done with law school; I had free time and decided to get involved in the love of my life, which is politics. Ive been a Republican since I was 18 years old.

Whats it like coming out as a Republican to gay people?

Its a tough sell. When I was 20 years old, I was gay, Latino, Republican, and a Catholic. An interesting blend. Often Ive gotten from people, Youre a Republican? and they drop their cosmo. Its an interesting reaction, one that now I welcome. In the gay community theres a perception that Democrats do all sorts of wonderful things for you. That is completely wrong. Life is also more than one issue.

Why are you a Republican?

Ive always loved politics. Ive always loved the principles of the Republican Party: limited government designed to facilitate personal success for the betterment of everyone. Individual liberty is a huge component of Republicanism and conservatism. Many have forgotten that. When this party was born in the 1850s, it was born to fight the enslavement of one group of citizens. Fifty years ago my grandmother came to this country from Ecuador with a seventh-grade education. In six months she owned her own apartment. She did not take government handouts and instilled in her children the idea that you work hard for what you achieve in life: Go out there, pull yourself by your bootstraps, you will succeed. Its the party that believes in freedom and liberty. Its sad that some are attempting to hijack such a great party to advance their system of morality.

Did you support President Bush in 2000?

I voted for the president in 2000.

And now?

You have to respect yourself before anyone else respects you. If I voted for the president after his endorsement of an amendment that demeaned me as a personwhich is the very essence of what that amendment does to our community by saying you are not good enoughI am disrespecting myself, and I will not vote for him. Hes entitled to his opinion, but it does not allow him to use the mechanism of government against me, and that is where our relationship ends.

Were you at Log Cabins annual convention in April, when the FMA was a leading topic on the agenda?

Yes. I got quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying I wouldnt vote for George Bush, but I would rather eat dirt than vote for John Kerry. Its a struggle for a lot of people. Some people want to vote for him, and thats fine; that is their choice. I will not, and I will go public with it because I want it to be on their consciences that they are the ones that are making someone who is part of the Republican family [leave]. Their actions are the ones that are alienating and isolating people.

Is there anything that might change your mind about the president before November?

His withdrawal of support for the amendment. There are so many other things Congress should be concerned with, not trying to use the United States Constitution to exclude citizens from defining their happiness as they deem fit. The presidency is being used as a bully pulpit to endorse an amendment that for the first time in American history would remove rights or limit rights or exclude a segment of the American population. That is very sad and very unbecoming of a president.
And mind you, Im not a one-issue guy. I support this president on tax cuts; I support him on the war in Iraq; I support him on the education bill and Medicare reform and all those things. I think the president has taken the nation in the right direction. However, [the FMA] is not an issue on which you can compromise. Youre talking about me as a person here. [Theyre] not saying, Youre good but youre not good enough. Theyre saying, Youre just not good, period. We just dont want you. Short of putting us on a boat and sending us down a river, I dont know what else they could possibly do.

You were saying earlier that you have some choice words for people in the party who call themselves conservative.

What I want those who claim to be conservative, the radical right, to realize is that they are not conservative if what they seek is to make everyone believe their beliefs. What they seek is to use government to limit freedom of fellow citizens. They are clinging to an outdated and outmoded, distorted and outright wrong view of their faith. If the Republican Party is going to allow itself to become a tool for them, theyre going to be taking the wrong direction. As a voter, I look at the Republican Party and I want to vote for the candidates like Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I dont want to vote for Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan or Gary Bauer. Those guys are losers: Buchanan went down in flames; Bauer, where the hell is he now? Pat Robertson is busy talking to God. Their campaigns went nowhere because campaigns designed to divide, to exclude, fail in a nation like oursa nation that in the end has always opened her arms, in the end welcomes people. The American people are a just people, and they will not tolerate someone doing something like that.

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