April 12, 2013 at 6:59 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Was gay member lone ‘no’ vote against RNC marriage resolution?
Bob Kabel, gay news, Washington Blade, Republican Party, Log Cabin Republicans

Gay D.C. activist Bob Kabel says he voted against the anti-gay RNC marriage resolution. (Washington Blade photo by Henry Linser)

A gay member of the Republican National Committee may have been the lone person to oppose a resolution on Friday that included opposition to same-sex marriage.

Bob Kabel, a gay D.C. Republican activist, said he shouted “no” when the time came to vote on the group of resolutions that included the anti-gay measure — despite media reports saying they were passed unanimously. Kabel said he was unaware of any others among the 168 RNC members shouting “no” when the time came to approve the resolutions.

Kabel said the vote on the resolutions came up during the RNC meeting in Hollywood, Calif., after a motion was made to break them up so they could be voted on individually.

“That was done on a voice vote,” Kabel said. “I voted in favor of that, so that I could have voted specifically against this resolution. And then, as soon as his motion to do separate votes on each of the resolutions failed, we went immediately to voice vote. I voice voted ‘no.’ Apparently no one heard me.”

Kabel, a former special assistant on legislative affairs for President Reagan, has been active in the Republican Party for decades. Until recently, he served as chair of the D.C. Republican Party. Kabel is now a board member of Log Cabin Republicans and was among the 131 Republicans who signed an amicus brief against the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.

On the first day of the RNC meeting, Kabel said he spoke out against the proposed resolution — which he knew in advance was going to be submitted — during a members-only breakfast and let RNC members know he opposed it because he’s a gay man.

“As I told them during the members-only meeting, this is a mistake,” Kabel said. “At a minimum, the messaging has to change, and eventually the policy has to change.”

Kabel said he also opposed the resolution because opposition to same-sex marriage is already in the 2012 Republican Party platform and because it detracts from the RNC “autopsy” report that called for outreach into the gay community.

“The platform can’t be changed until 2016 when there’s a new platform committee constituted,” Kabel said. “But I also said in following up on what I thought was an excellent part of the ‘Growth & Opportunity Project’ report on messaging that it said that this hard and fast stand against gay marriage has done a lot of damage to the party with young people. And so, I said I didn’t see the point at all in simply restating what’s already in the platform, which we only adopted six months ago.”

Following his remarks, Kabel said a number of RNC members — which he said about 30 percent of them are new — came up to him and said they appreciated his remarks and that he had the courage to come out the entire Republican National Committee. Kabel said no one objected to his remarks.

“I had a number of members come up to me and say, ‘Not everybody knew you were gay, Bob,'” Kabel said. “It’s good for people to know that there’s any openly gay person as a member of RNC. And two, you made a very good point. We should just tamper down on all this stuff.”

Kabel said no one joined him in voting “no” against the resolutions — even though his remarks were well-received — likely because there were some good resolutions in the package, including one honoring a deceased RNC member.

The gay RNC member said the media attention that the resolution has received is “unfortunate” and he wouldn’t focus “too much on just one vote” in comparison to the Growth & Opportunity Project, which took the RNC months to put together.

“That report is the first time that I’ve ever seen an RNC document with term ‘gay’ used,” Kabel said. “It was used repeatedly in that messaging piece. I know it’s part of the process. The five members of the group that actually put it together traveled around the country and spoke to thousands and thousands of people. Log Cabin is always invited at the table of the RNC, but I know that they specifically talked to some of the Lob Cabin people about what to do.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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