California’s Republican Party stepped into the 21st Century and onto the right side of history Sunday, with a landslide vote granting formal acceptance of the mostly gay Log Cabin Republican club within the state party.
After decades of excoriating gays and lesbians as moral degenerates, the California GOP approved a resolution at the Sacramento Convention Center to certify the long-embattled Log Cabin Republicans as an official volunteer arm of the party.
As a political matter, it was an important victory for state party chairman Jim Brulte’s efforts to rebuild, re-brand and restore the California GOP to relevance, by making its membership more diverse and breaking the political choke-hold long exercised by right-wing Republican advocates for inflammatory, out-of-the mainstream stances on social issues.
“It’s a sea change,” said Brandon Gesicki, a GOP consultant from Monterey. “It’s huge.”
“It’s evidence they’re interested in increasing their voter base and moving in the right direction,” Kevin James, president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works and longtime Log Cabin member told Calbuzz later.
As a practical matter, the 861-293 vote by delegates, which set off a loud celebration by club members and their supporters in the hall, is largely symbolic – but no more so than past, bitter efforts by evangelical Christian Republicans to drive them out of the party; ex-Orange County congressman William Dannemeyer for years tormented Log Cabin at party conventions, once fighting for adoption of a platform that included references to “rimming,” “fisting” and “golden showers.”
To win a formal charter, leaders of the 38-year old Log Cabin had to submit more than 100-pages of paperwork and to revise their club bylaws to ensure they focused exclusively on furthering the Republican cause and did not violate party bylaws prohibiting recognition of organization based on “lifestyle preferences.”
And many Republican anti-gay activists argued against Log Cabin, on the floor of the convention center, in the Hyatt Regency Hotel lobby and hallways and in blizzards of late-night emails to reporters; some of these arguments were made on procedural grounds, others in the familiar rhetoric of those who consider homosexuality a biblical abomination.
“This is the very definition of moral relativism,” implored a woman delegate from Placer County. “God has absolutes beyond man’s ideas.”
Most importantly for those seeking full acceptance within the state party, its platform still explicitly attacks gay people: “We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption,” the platform reads.
Because of party rules, changes in the platform can only be addressed at its fall conventions, one of two it holds each year. That fight likely lies ahead.
Tea Party Blues: While the big story coming out of the convention was about political moderation and increased tolerance, those searching for good old fashioned, rabid right-wingers did not have to look far.
One of the convention’s best-attended panel discussions was titled “TPCC Panel: Lame Duck Blues,” a thinly disguised Tea-Party meeting where Bircher clones freely displayed their anger and paranoia.
The U.S. under President Obama, said panelist and Simi Valley delegate Steve Frank, “is like Nazi Germany in the 1930s – somebody is watching you.”
Obama “hates Israel,” Frank said a few minutes later, adding that the president “refuses to condemn terrorists.”
At one point, referencing recent comments by Republican has-been Rudy Giuliani, a Tea Party leader asked for a show of hands from those who believed that “Obama loves America.” Not a single hand went up.
The future lies ahead: As usual, the nonpareil social event of a convention weekend, and the toughest ticket in town, was the Dr. P.J. Hackenflack dinner, which once again featured a glittering collection of California’s top media hacks and political hacks, including such GOP luminaries as Bob White, Ruben Barrales, Bob and Linda Naylor. Chairman Jim even stopped by for a visit.
Dining at the fashionable Lucca on such delights as linguini and prawns, balanced with most of the alcohol west of Mississippi, guests participated in the closely watched Hackenflack Predictive Poll, a collection of the most astute future conventional wisdom from its most insightful practitioners and purveyors.
This season’s poll included three questions:
1-Who will finish second in the primary election for U.S. Senate in June 2016?
2-Who will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016?
3-Who will be the next governor of California?
1-Senate Second Place
Rocky Chavez 27%
Adam Schiff 20%
Loretta Sanchez 13%
Duf Sundheim 13%
Kamala Harris 13%
Jim Brulte 7%
Ron Nehring 7%
Jeb Bush 83%
Scott Walker 17%
Place your bets.