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National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Scolds Log Cabin Republicans
Decries Honoring of Ward Connerly by Gay Republican Group

Rich Tafel Defends Gay G.O.P. Group's Choice of Affirmative Action Foe
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Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday
From NGLTF and Log Cabin Reports

Affirmative Action is an integral part of the cause for equality of people of color and women. Honoring Mr. Connerly's work divides our community by race and sexual orientation.
--- Kerry Lobel, NGLTF executive director

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force urged the Log Cabin Republicans last week to reconsider its decision to honor civil rights foe Ward Connerly at its national Dallas convention August 15.

Log Cabin had announced that Connerly, president of the American Civil Rights Institute and member of the University of California Board of Regents, will be presented with its Spirit of Lincoln Award for his support of same-sex domestic partnership benefits.

Connerly is scheduled to receive the award at Log Cabin's national convention next month. In a letter to Log Cabin executive director Rich Tafel, Task Force executive director Kerry Lobel urged Tafel to reconsider the choice of Connerly.

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Ward Connerly
Connerly led California's Proposition 209, which was passed by voters in 1996. Prop 209 effectively dismantled all affirmative action programs in the state. Many civil rights groups charged Connerly's campaign as a campaign of intentional misinformation and deception. Connerly has since spearheaded similar efforts in a number of other states.

NGLTF's director said: "Mr. Connerly's support of domestic partnership for same-sex couples does not mollify me. Domestic partner benefits are of little value to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people of color who cannot get a job or admission to a university where such benefits are offered… To applaud those who would grant us rights while they actively strip civil rights away from others is to buttress the divide and conquer strategy of our enemies."

ngltf.gif - 2.98 KLobel further stated, "The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender movement often calls on our allies to support our cause for equality. For reasons of conscience and reciprocity, we have a responsibility to honor the cause for equality of our allies. Affirmative action is an integral part of that cause for equality of people of color and women. Honoring Mr. Connerly's work divides our community by race and sexual orientation. We believe the GLBT movement has a responsibility to support equality for all people."

Log Cabin Republicans Reply:

The gay Republican organization responded Tuesday to NGLTF's criticism.

Mr. Connerly, admits Log Cabin, was indeed the founder of the 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209) which ended race and gender-based preferences in public employment, contracting and education in California.

NGLTF, insists Log Cabin, is critical of the gay Republican decision "based on its own long-standing support of affirmative action."

"We honor the rich diversity of opinion in the gay and lesbian movement, and in that spirit we respect NGLTF's views on Proposition 209," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.

logcabin.gif - 11.96 K"We are a big enough community for disagreement and diversity, and our organizations have a fundamental disagreement on this particular issue. Log Cabin believes that individual merit must be the sole criterion by which all Americans are to be judged, and that race, gender and sexual orientation must never be a basis by which Americans are judged in the workplace or in any other sector of society. Ward Connerly passionately shares this vision, and he has never shirked from defending it no matter what the personal or political cost to him from the left or the right. He is a personal hero of mine."

Connerly, according to Log Cabin, recently withstood intense public and private pressure from Governor Pete Wilson (R-CA) and GOP leaders in California to vote as a UC Regents board member against the granting of domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples in the UC system.

Connerly is reported to have announced his support for the measure early, and is said to have never wavered. He voted in favor of the measure, which passed in 1997. Wilson had made Proposition 209 a centerpiece of his short-lived 1996 presidential campaign.

Tafel continued: "There are many leaders who say they are for equality for 'all Americans' and in the next breath begin adding exceptions. Just as he has not flinched in his activism despite the epithets and attacks from some on the left, Ward Connerly has never been afraid to denounce the hypocrisy of anyone who supports the ending of race and gender-based preferences while opposing equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. In our view, Ward Connerly is a valuable friend of the gay and lesbian community because he is a true believer in equality, a man who puts his own convictions above political considerations, and reminds us all of the meaning of leadership. It is for this reason that we will honor him with the Spirit of Lincoln Award."

This is not the first time that two national gay organizations have publicly disagreed, and, say observers, it will not be the last. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Log Cabin Republicans disagree about nearly every issue in today's public policy arena.

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