King of the Cabin



What are your thoughts on the upcoming LCR trial against DADT?
Here's what I tell members of Congress when discussing the LCR v. U.S. case: "As with a military campaign, it is necessary to conduct multiple operations to achieve victory. The legislative process, the judicial process, and the executive review process are complementary operations and are not mutually exclusive of each other. Log Cabin Republicans is covering terrain in each theater. We are lobbying Republican members of Congress, have an active court case, and are consulting with the Department of Defense." Regarding the trial, the legislative calendar will determine my ability to be present at the trial. Based on recent calendar predictions from members of Congress and their staff, I should be able to be off Capitol Hill for the trial date.

John McCain was endorsed by LCR for president in 2008 but has since turned his back on gay rights. What's your take on him?
Not only am I surprised by Senator McCain's position on DADT, so are the members of the Senate. I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus. A number of his peers were surprised by that change. Because if you look back at '08, he was a relatively easy endorsement for Log Cabin because he was on record for supporting repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." And there had been public statements and indicators on issues of domestic- partnership benefits and marriage equality. And Cindy McCain, even during the campaign trail, was out there courting the gay and lesbian vote. And Meghan McCain was doing the same. I haven't got a chance to just sit down and ask him, "What happened?" But I do plan to do that. I've heard members of the Senate and also House members who are close to him say, you know, he's in a rough primary. That seems to be a constant. He hasn't said that, of course. All I can do is contribute my drumbeat of messaging to Senator McCain and say, "Sir, as a fellow Republican, as a fellow combat veteran, I encourage you to vote in favor of repeal." It's kind of unusual, actually a reversal because our focus has been getting Republicans to evolve from positions from being either antigay or not engaged and getting them to evolve in the direction of support. This is counter to what the trend has been.

What is your stance on the Tea Party?
I don't know. The Tea Party movement is every stripe of life. You've got people in there who are upper-middle-class. You have working class. You have paycheck-to-paycheck people. It's not a single economic demographic. What I don't think has been measured is how many Tea Party voters are registered to vote. If they're registered, are these people who changed to independent at some point? They're not one particular party. You know what's interesting? They've been called conservatives or Republicans, but they're not, because the Tea Party is just as angry at the RNC as they are at the DNC. They're angry, they're scared. But they're not affiliated with anybody. So one of the questions for a Tea Party member is, "What do you suggest? How do you want to contribute?"

Let's talk about theoil spill. I know it's become a partisan issue.
It shouldn't be.

From a Republican vantage point, how closely should BP be responsible for the cleanup? Not just in the spill, but in the repercussions that are going to take place along the coast.

They should be responsible. I'll give you an example of a Republican friend and colleague and somebody really affected hard by this is Jeff Miller from Florida. He's a very conservative Republican. He's on the House Armed Services Committee. He and I don't see eye to eye on everything, but we talked to each other, and I know that Congressman Miller, his district is directly affected. This is district 1 of Florida, Pensacola Beach, they have tar balls showing up on the beach, the seafood industry is affected, there is certainly a direct correlation between consequence of this disaster and the need for compensation restitution. I honestly don't think that the federal agencies, that the executive side, no matter if it's regulatory or not, really don't have an idea as to what the economic impact is. That's what the frustration is on both sides of the aisle, to use a military term, what are the second and third effects of this oil spill. No one really knows just yet. Everyone does know, however, that there are the immediate effects, certain fishing zones have been shut down. The tourist industry in certain coastal areas has been affected.  That's money not being spent on hotel rooms, charter boats, house leasing, restaurants, you name it. There's that whole chain of events that affects economies in that area. I think you'd be hard-pressed, really, to find any member of Congress, or any governor of a Gulf Coast state, who would think that BP didn't have a responsibility to pay back or pay for damages caused by the oil spill.

Tell me about the upcoming election. Are their certain races you're keeping an eye on? Is there an LCR hope that the GOP will retake the House or Senate?
We'd like to see more Republicans elected to Congress. However, we don't want to have additional members join the Congress with R next to their name that are going to treat the LGBT community like a piñata. We had a double victory in Charles Djou. Because I was able to tell the minority leader, John Boehner, at a fund-raiser for Charles Djou, "You know, Mr. Boehner, I'm proudly here today as the head of Log Cabin Republicans giving additional funds to Djou's campaign for reelection in November because he not only is a good Republican, he actually is solid as far as seeing gays and lesbians as full members of society and we should have full civil rights as everyone else." That's the kind of Republican we need to recruit more of.

What is your take on California congresswoman Mary Bono Mack? She's running against an openly gay man, Steve Pougnet, and I know Mary's had a kind of inconsistent record with LGBT ...
Pretty darn good [laughs]. Very good. actually.  Well, go ahead, I'm sorry, I jumped in your question.

My understanding is she voted against the repeal, so does that change...
She voted for the bill [but against the Patrick Murphy–sponsored repeal amendment]. This is the part of my job that sucks. There was the vote on the amendment, and I would say there were members, I said if you can't vote on the amendment or say a floor speech or statement saying the Murphy amendment is the best thing since sliced bread, because we know Mr. Murphy's a Democrat, fine, fine, fine. But would you at least vote for the defense authorization bill, because if we don't get the bill passed, then it doesn't matter who votes for the Murphy amendment. So Mary Bono Mack was one of those additional Republicans who said, "I currently cannot vote for that amendment, but you've got me for the bill. And of course, my record stands or where I've been on LGBT issues, and you're going to continue to have me." When you look at the strategy, you have to look at it this way. She did vote for us on the bill. She does have a good record and frankly, I would love to see her come back to Congress because she is also in-house recruitment for us. She's in-house advocacy. I can't put a price on what Mary Bono Mack does in the Congress as far as helping me carry my message — that being gay or lesbian isn't mutually exclusive to being a conservative, being a person of faith, and being Republican. She does that every day. And I'm not a member of Congress. It would have been ideal if she'd voted on the amendment and the bill, but she did vote for the bill.

Tags: Politicians