Metro Weekly

Texas GOP will not give the Log Cabin Republicans a booth at state convention

Social conservatives argue Log Cabin's identity runs counter to party platform opposing same-sex marriage

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw speaks at the Log Cabin of Republicans of Houston’s dinner – Photo: Log Cabin Republicans of Texas, via Facebook.

Last week, the Texas Republican Party continued its more than two decade-long tradition of refusing to give the Log Cabin Republicans a booth at the party’s state convention.

The convention, which is scheduled from May 11-16 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, brings together party members and self-described conservatives representing interest groups from all over the state.

Log Cabin has long desired to have a booth at the convention, as it would give them a chance to tout their work on behalf of the GOP to convention attendees and make connections with other activists.

This year’s request was backed by the Young Republicans, which wrote a letter to the State Republican Executive Committee saying that party activists are “stronger together” and will need every bit of support in what promises to be a fiercely fought presidential election in November.

Log Cabin’s bid for a booth was also backed by the Liberty Caucus and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a 35-year-old Republican from Houston who’s been called a rising star in the party, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Hayden Padgett, the chairman of the Texas Young Republicans, said that party officials should accept “anyone who would join us in our cause, no matter their race, creed, religion or lifestyle.”

In his own letter, Crenshaw wrote that Log Cabin had “worked tirelessly” to support Republican candidates and other conservative causes in rapidly Democratic-trending Houston, where Republicans often find themselves on defense. 

“For our party to win at the local, state and national levels, we need to embrace all that support our conservative policy and principles,” Crenshaw wrote. “Disagreements over certain policy issues should not be enough to exclude a group.”

But the request was opposed by older Republicans, who demanded that the party reject Log Cabin’s request for a booth and another request to be recognized as an official affiliate of the party.

State Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) was one of those opponents, saying that LGBTQ groups promote “unnatural sex.” Another opponent, Steve Hotze, a socially conservative activist and radio host from Houston, sent emails to party leaders accusing Log Cabin and other LGBTQ groups of promoting “immoral and perverted sexual proclivities,” including exposing children to Drag Queen Story Time events in public libraries.

In a committee meeting last Friday, many older members of the State Republican Executive Committee objected to recognizing Log Cabin because of a plank in the party’s platform that opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“They don’t have the basic belief in the God of the Bible that we are founded on,” Hall told the committee members. “I could not find anywhere on their website an expression of their faith in God like you will find on a Republican website.”

He also brought up other clashes over LGBTQ rights that have taken place in the Lone Star State in recent years, including the debate over Houston’s failed HERO ordinance and the attempt by the Republican-led Texas Senate to bar transgender people from using facilities matching their gender identity.

State Sen Bob Hall – Photo: Facebook.

On Saturday, allies of Log Cabin put forth the official motion to allow the group to have a booth. But the executive committee tabled that motion. Subsequent motions to allow a roll call vote and to allow LCR Houston chapter head Marco Roberts to speak were tabled as well, reports The Houston Chronicle

Addressing the committee prior to the vote, state Log Cabin chairman Michael Baker promoted the inclusion of his organization as a move that would promote “party unity” ahead of the 2020 election.

“Our purpose was to unify Republicans and go into 2020 as a unified party for these elections across the state of Texas,” he said.

Baker later told the Star-Telegram that the national advances in LGBTQ rights have sparked a backlash among some social conservatives, and Log Cabin bears the brunt of that backlash. 

“Whatever happens involving the gay community, we get blamed. We become the dartboard for things we don’t even agree with,” he said.

Roberts, the head of the Houston chapter, issued his own statement to the Chronicle.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed with the decision made by our elected representatives,” he said. “There were a few courageous members of the SREC who stood with us, even under enormous pressure to refrain from doing so. We owe them our highest respect and deepest gratitude.

Related: Unsteady Cabin: Log Cabin endorsed Trump, but LGBTQ Republicans are split

“Many have told us that it is upon us to make the case for ourselves,” he added. “We agree, and we intend to do that, for us, and for our great party.”

State GOP Chairman James Dickey refused to offer his personal position, but said he appreciated how the members handled a controversial issue.

“There was a decent discussion yesterday and clearly, today after having already had that discussion yesterday, the committee decided not to rehash the lessons that frankly the party’s been considering for a long time,” he said. “The discussions I had with members yesterday was how proud I am of how different a heartfelt debate looked like in our party compared to how I am convinced a similar debate on a similar topic would look from the other party.”

But despite Dickey’s dig at them, Texas Democrats reveled in the GOP’s rejection of Log Cabin, with former State Rep. Glen Maxey, the first openly gay member of the Texas House of Representatives, saying the refusal to give Log Cabin a booth at the convention or even recognized it as an affiliate of the Texas GOP was “yet another example of how extremism and prejudice have come to define the Republican Party.”

“It is dead wrong and the Texas Republicans’ decision today only reinforces their idea that all people aren’t created equal,” he said. “To every Log Cabin Republican, we have one message: You are welcome in the Texas Democratic Party. Come join us in the fight for equality and march with us as we strive for a more just, fair society.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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