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Key John McCain aide reaches out to gay Republicans

September 4, 2008 |  5:39 pm

Gay Republican.

We've known some Democrats to deride the term as an oxymoron. But for years now, openly gay Republicans not only have stayed the course in the party, but sought to raise their profile through the Log Cabin organization. And today, that group reveled in a visit from John McCain's campaign manager, Steve Schmidt (below, next to a cutout of his boss).

Steve Schmidt, campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate John McCain Schmidt spoke at a luncheon in Minneapolis hosted by Log Cabin and, according to a release quickly sent out by Scott Tucker, its communications director, he said, "I admire your organization."

Other quotes from Schmidt, as related by Tucker: "Keep fighting for what you believe because the day is going to come," and, "We are the party of freedom. We will keep fighting as a party to reach it in full."

Schmidt's interest in the group's efforts may be more than academic; a recent Washington Post profile of him noted that his lone sibling is a lesbian.

Tucker said in his release the luncheon was held to honor the openly gay delegates at the Republican National Convention in neighboring St. Paul. We tracked him down by phone to ask how many that would be among the confab's total of 2,380.

Tucker told us that although the party "doesn't keep those demographics," he estimated the number at about two dozen.

Log Cabin did not actually get around to endorsing McCain until Tuesday (a little shy of seven months after he effectively locked down the presidential nomination). But in its statement of support, the group lavished praise on the Arizona senator ...

... for "bucking his own party’s leadership and the president -- twice voting against" the push for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

McCain, who believes the gay marriage issue should be left up to each state, "gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, calling the amendment 'antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans,' " the Log Cabin statement said.

It also applauded McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, even though she is known as a strong social conservative and that segment of the GOP has enthusiastically embraced her.

Tucker told us, "When it comes to gay issues, she's largely undefined." He added that in her favor, Palin -- unlike some Republicans -- "has never used gay or lesbian people to win an election."

In the one prominent decision on that front that she's made as Alaska's governor, she vetoed a bill that would have blocked the state from providing public employee benefits to same-sex couples. At the time of her action, the Anchorage Daily News reported that although she personally opposed allowing such benefits, she was advised the legislation violated the state's constitution.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credit: Associated Press

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