In late July, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — who has a questionable record on gay rights — announced that he would attend a fundraiser next week for the Log Cabin Republicans — the GOP’s leading gay advocacy organization. “Some things we won’t agree on,” Cornyn, who is also chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said at the time. “But I think it’s always better to talk and then try find those things we can agree on rather than just assume there’s no common ground whatsoever.” “I don’t want people to misunderstand and think that I don’t respect the dignity of every human being regardless of sexual orientation,” Cornyn said.
But earlier today — after an initial tepid statement of support from NRSC executive director Rob Jesmer — Cornyn endorsed Delaware U.S. Senate GOP primary winner Christine O’Donnell, despite her strong history of anti-gay rhetoric and positions. “I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support,” Cornyn wrote in an email. “This support includes a check for $42,000 –- the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees.” Later in the day, he appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show to clear up any confusion about his commitment:
CORNYN: Well, really I don’t know the source of the rumors that were attributed to the Republican National Senatorial Committee. I’m the Chairman as you know and certainly without my authorization I corrected the record, talking to Christine this morning. Told her we will support her, in fact we send her some money already…I’ve encouraged my other colleagues to send money from their leadership PAC funds. We’re going to do everything we can to help her get elected in November.
O’Donnell has a long track record of saying and doing things that would suggest that she doesn’t respect the “dignity” of gay people. For instance, as president of Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth (SALT), “O’Donnell helped facilitate an ex-gay program within the group, even bringing on a staff member to work exclusively on ex-gay issues.” During a 2000 interview on Fox’s now defunct Hannity & Colmes, “O’Donnell decried ‘offensive’ behavior at gay rights parades, complaining that ‘homosexuals’ special rights groups can get away with so much more than nobody else can!” “They’re getting away with nudity! They’re getting away with lasciviousness! They’re getting away with perversion,” she said.
As press secretary for Concerned Women of America, O’Donnell complained that policies extending health benefits to gay employees’ partners “legitimizes the homosexual lifestyle” and could “desensitize” Americans to same-sex relationships and lead to legal marriage. O’Donnell also opposed funding programs for AIDS sufferers through the Ryan White Act because she said that federal money has “in the past gone to teach teenagers to use condoms to engage in homosexual behavior that includes anal sex.” Most recently, in her race against Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), O’Donnell insinuated that Castle is gay and then denied it.
And while social conservative organizations have criticized Cornyn for speaking at the Log Cabin event, LGBT friendly groups have remained mum on the Senator’s apparent contradiction. Reached today by phone, Jimmy LaSalvia, a co-founder of GOProud and its Executive Director, told me that “if you look at it, O’Donnell wasn’t elected on social issues. She was elected nominated for the same reason that a lot of other candidates are bring nominated and that’s to call an end to the status quo in Washington.”
The Log Cabin Republicans did not reply to my questions about Cornyn’s participation at next week’s fundraiser, despite repeated inquiries. It would be interesting to know if Cornyn is still invited to attend their event.
Cornyn is confirming that he will still attend the Log Cabin Republican fundraiser. In a letter to Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, Cornyn re-stated his conservative credentials and wrote:
First, part of my job is to reach out to those committed to defeat Senate Democrats this November. The Log Cabin Republicans are doing just that, as they stand for fiscal discipline, limited government, and a strong national defense. We many not agree on several key issues, but we do agree that every committee in the United States Senate should be chaired by a Republican.
Second, as social conservatives we affirm the basic dignity of every human life, including not only unborn children, but also adults with whom we may disagree. I believe we are all made in the image and likeness of God. I believe the beauty and blessing of America is that people of different faiths and creeds can live together in peace, despite serious disagreements. Respecting each other’s dignity does not mean ignoring those disagreements, but rather being honest about them, and working together when possible despite them.