Log Cabin Republicans rallied their supporters at a fundraising event yesterday evening, but remained mum on the organization's presidential endorsement.
With less than two months to go before the general election, the organization of LGBT Republicans has yet to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, fueling speculation that the group could abstain from issuing an endorsement, as was the case in 2004.
According to LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper, such speculation is unfounded.
"We are wrapping up our endorsement slate in the next week, before the October debates start," Cooper told Metro Weekly.
Cooper added that any delay isn't reflective of qualms with Romney's candidacy, but LCR's increased involvement with House and Senate races.
A theme throughout LCR's Spirit of Lincoln Awards Dinner, held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, was shifting support within the Republican Party for gay people.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) keynoted the dinner and lauded LCR for fighting for a more inclusive party that adheres to conservative values of limited government and freedom.
"We are now witnessing a new kind of revolution and it's a peaceful revolution," Ros-Lehtinen said.
A year ago, Ros-Lehtinen became the first Republican co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring any federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The only Republican member of Congress to openly endorse marriage equality, Ros-Lehtinen said she believes her party is slowly catching up on the issue.
"We have a core group that's very conservative in their social values, and so there's a lot of conversations that are taking place at kitchen tables throughout America," Ros-Lehtinen told Metro Weekly after her speech.
The Florida Republican said there was a growing sense of awareness of LGBT issues within the GOP caucus.
"It's getting better every day," she said. "We're not sliding back. We're going forward."
Author David Lampo, whose recent book, A Fundamental Freedom, argues for Republican support of marriage equality, cited numerous polls that show growing support for marriage equality among party faithful.
"Most of our fellow Republicans are already with us, despite what bigots like Rick Santorum on the right, and blowhards like Barney Frank on the left tell us," Lampo said to cheers from the crowd, referencing, respectively, the former Pennsylvania Republican senator and the Democratic Massachusetts congressman, who is gay.
It was a sentiment echoed by other speakers, including tax activist Grover Norquist and the conservative lawyer behind the challenge to California's Proposition 8, Ted Olson, who delivered a video statement. Cooper, who described Republicans who support marriage equality but remain silent as one of the most frustrating aspects about the issue, told Metro Weekly that many Republican lawmakers oppose DOMA, but have their fingers crossed that it will be sorted out by the courts rather than by a floor vote.
"It's known in Republican circles that House and Senate Republican leadership doesn't want this issue to go to the floor," Cooper said.
There was little talk about the presidential election, although out gay Rep. Frank's recent feud with LCR, in which he described the group as "Uncle Toms," appears to have provided a rallying cry for the organization. Cooper said LCR, along with Republican House and Senate leadership, have welcomed the fight with Frank, who will retire at the end of this term.
Nervetheless, Romney's opposition to marriage equality and LCR's forthcoming decision whether to endorse the Republican candidate remained in the background.
Although Ros-Lehtinen does not agree with Romney's position on marriage equality, she said the prevailing issue in the 2012 election is the economy.
"Even though I'm not in favor of his position on immigration or marriage equality or a host of other things," she added, "I think that he's going to be a reasonable guy with whom we can communicate."