August 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
GOProud disputes Log Cabin’s ‘first’ at GOP convention

GOProud Chief Strategist Chris Barron (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Two gay Republican groups disagree over the claim that the participation of Log Cabin in the 2012 Republican platform drafting process is a “first” for the organization as claimed by its executive director.

On Wednesday, the Washington Blade reported that Log Cabin would have four members of its organization credentialed to take part in the platform drafting process, which will happen in Tampa, Fla., the week before the Republican National Convention begins in that city.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the organization, said this direct involvement in the platform drafting process was a first for Log Cabin.

But this assertion has been challenged by another gay Republican group that will also have a presence at the convention.

Chris Barron, chief strategist of GOProud, disputed Log Cabin’s assertion in an email to the Blade, saying he was “credentialed to attend the platform hearings” when he was Log Cabin’s political director in 2004.

Barron criticized Cooper, saying a Google search of Barron’s involvement in the Republican National Convention would reveal his past work and Log Cabin’s participation in the 2012 process is “nothing new or novel.”

“I know this may be news to Clarke but he didn’t invent the wheel,” Barron said. “Log Cabin has a 30 year plus history that he would do well to get acquainted with. Lots of gay conservatives have been at this for a very long time. Clarke’s total lack of institutional knowledge or even passing interest in it speaks volumes.”

Barron also questioned whether Log Cabin should take responsibility for the outcome of the Republican platform language.

“I guess Clarke will take responsibility for the final language of marriage since they claim to be so uniquely and intimately involved?” Barron said.

A news statement from Log Cabin in 2004 reveals the organization was pushing for a “unity plank” in that year’s party platform that would have said “Republicans of good faith” can disagree on language related to “abortion, family planning and gay and lesbian issues,” but this language was ultimately rejected. Barron is quoted in numerous media reports in 2004 as expressing dissatisfaction with the final version of the platform and its support for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Asked to respond, Cooper maintained that Log Cabin’s involvement in the 2012 platform drafting process is “indeed unprecedented” despite Barron’s contention.

“While the presence of Log Cabin Republicans at the RNC is not unique — in fact, we are proud to have a rainbow flag flown at the 2000 RNC convention hanging on our office wall — there is a difference between offering a plank at convention, as happened in 2004, and the hands-on prep work we’ve been engaged in for the 2012 platform,” Cooper said.

Additionally, Cooper noted GOProud doesn’t have the same level of involvement in the 2012 platform drafting process as Log Cabin.

“While we honor those who came before us, the progress we have made and are continuing to make should not be downplayed by those who have chosen to step aside and have no role in the current process,” Cooper said.

Barron co-founded GOProud with Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia after both sought — but were denied — a position as head of Log Cabin following the departure of the former president, Patrick Sammon.

Bob Kabel, who’s gay and chair of the D.C. Republican Committee, said Log Cabin’s involvement in the platform drafting process is the result of the Republican National Committee opening up discussions to include more voices.

“They’ve been very open to all points of view in the way they’re putting together information and also to hear from people, so people feel that it’s an open process and not a closed process,” Kabel said. “They’ve done a lot of listening sessions, they’ve done conference calls, they’ve done in-person meetings, so I know that they did call up Log Cabin and asked them to talk about the issues of interest to the GLBT community.”

In response to a follow-up inquiry, Barron said GOProud also has involvement with the 2012 platform drafting process.

“We have had meetings with individual members of the platform committee and worked with allied organizations on areas of concern to us,” Barron said. “As veterans of previous platform fights we understand that the lion’s share of work gets done behind closed doors and in off the record meetings, not in missives to the press.”

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

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