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Schwarzenegger
pledges friendship to gay Republicans at L.A. event

Schwarzenegger
pledges friendship to gay Republicans at L.A. event

Schwarzenegger

Amid spontaneous chants of "Four more years!" California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared Thursday night at a Los Angeles fund-raiser for the California chapter of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans.

Amid spontaneous chants of "Four more years!" California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared Thursday night at a Los Angeles fund-raiser for the California chapter of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "I love being here with my friends," the governor said in a brief speech that emphasized his support for "the values of tolerance, understanding, respect, equality, and inclusion." Schwarzenegger, who was elected in a special recall election in 2003, is campaigning for reelection against Democratic challenger Phil Angelides, the two-term state treasurer. "I got 80% of the votes from you [gay Republicans] for that [election]," the governor noted. "The other 20% never forgave me for my movie Hercules in NewYork." Contrary to some press reports, however, none of the money raised on Thursday went to Schwarzenegger's campaign. The event raised money for Log Cabin and its related 501(c)3 arm, the Liberty Education Forum. The governor's upbeat speech was punctuated with humor and peppered with broad but firm assertions of Schwarzenegger's backing of LGBT equality. "We need to address problems rather than attacking people," he said, referring to antigay political tactics by conservative members of his own party. "What we need is a sense of tolerance that is stronger, not weaker." Not mentioned by the governor--or any other speaker to take to the podium at the event, dubbed "The Courage to Lead"--was Schwarzenegger's 2005 veto of a bill passed by the state legislature that would have established marriage equality in California. Nor did the governor trumpet the many pro-gay bills he has signed into law since taking office or discuss pending legislation that would require the state's public schools to include gay historical figures in their curricula. Whatever his record so far, the governor needs to know gay Republicans support him, said Log Cabin's national president, Patrick Guerriero. "It's likely this man is going to be reelected and have a heavy impact on the future of equality for LGBT citizens," Guerriero told TheAdvocate. "In light of that, LGBT Californians must continue their dialogue with the governor." Schwarzenegger was joined at the event--held at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, just steps from Graumann's Chinese Theater and the Walk of Fame--by his wife, Maria Shriver. California's first lady, a lifelong Democrat, often forgoes appearances at partisan fund-raisers. "She goes to very few of these events," Schwarzenegger said, "but when I told her it was the Log Cabin Republicans, she said, 'I love those Republicans--I'm coming.'" Log Cabin California leader Jim Arnone presented Schwarzenegger with the group's President Ronald Reagan Award. Reagan, the other California governor who began his career as an actor, helped inspire the formation of the Log Cabin Republicans in 1978, when a group of gay Republicans urged the recent ex-governor to speak out against the Briggs initiative, a ballot measure that would have barred gays from teaching in the state's public schools. Reagan's opposition was instrumental in the measure's defeat. Guerriero addressed the crowd briefly, saying he had thrown out his prepared speech "a few minutes ago," and instead spoke about maintaining integrity in the face of attacks "from both the far right and the far left." "We have values and we stick by them," said Guerriero, who will leave his Log Cabin post in September. "We do have work to do to educate our fellow Republicans, but we have to do it with integrity and dignity and class." State Republican Party chairman Duf Sundheim, who has been working to maintain support for the governor from both gay and antigay party members, appeared onstage to introduce the elected officials and candidates in the room but made no personal remarks. The last speaker of the evening was gay Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. "I've come out two times in my life," he said: the first time telling his parents he's gay, the second time on Thursday, accepting Log Cabin's American Visibility Award as a proud Republican. "It's my fervent hope that no one suggests electroshock therapy tonight." When people ask why he's a Republican, Cherry quipped, "I always say I was born in Orange County [Calif.], so I was registered at birth." He added, "I don't follow the established orthodoxy of any party. I kind of like to think for myself." Schwarzenegger did not remain for the award presentation to Cherry but did spend more than an hour at the event, including an appearance at a VIP reception with Shriver. Dressed in a fashionable, mid-length black dress with a dramatic belt and looking quite at home in the mostly gay male crowd, Shriver went from table to table before her husband's speech, introducing herself. Both she and the governor remained for some time after his speech, shaking hands, signing programs, and posing for photos. Once the governor departed, so did a ragtag band of protesters outside the hotel. The antigay protesters were reportedly organized by the Campaign for California Families, an offshoot organization backed by Colorado-based activist James Dobson. The right-wing preacher supports his Focus on the Family organization largely with fund-raising campaigns that attack gay Americans and their families. (The Advocate)

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