By Bruce Shenitz
Attorney in Boston
President, Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts
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. I've been a Republican since I was 18 years old.
What's it like coming out as a Republican to gay people?
It's a tough sell. When I was 20 years old, I was gay, Latino, Republican, and a Catholic. An interesting blend'. Often I've gotten from people, 'You're a Republican?' and they drop their cosmo. It's an interesting reaction, one that now I welcome. In the gay community there's 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?
I've always loved politics. I've 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. It's the party that believes in freedom and liberty. It's 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.
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 person'which is the very essence of what that amendment does to our community by saying you are not good enough'I am disrespecting myself, and I will not vote for him. He's 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 Cabin's 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 wouldn't vote for George Bush, but I would rather eat dirt than vote for John Kerry. It's a struggle for a lot of people. Some people want to vote for him, and that's 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, I'm 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. You're talking about me as a person here. [They're] not saying, 'You're good but you're not good enough.' They're saying, 'You're just not good, period. We just don't want you.' Short of putting us on a boat and sending us down a river, I don't 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, they're 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 don't 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 ours'a 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.