Parties adjust, luaus are forever

  • by Fred Schein
  • Wednesday March 13, 2013
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SF Log Cabin President Fred Schein<br>(Photo: Courtesy Fred Schein)<br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
SF Log Cabin President Fred Schein
(Photo: Courtesy Fred Schein)

Recent reports of the death of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated; those of its introspection are not. You don't have to remind us we lost many contests last November. No need to write to the editor of this fine newspaper about that.

I've been a Republican my entire voting life and I can't remember a better time to be in the party. We believe that markets are the best way to determine value. In politics, elections are the marketplace. We allowed our product to get a little out of touch. Many members came to rest on past laurels and dwell on old ideas and long-ago successes. Some ignored that many, a great many, LGBT people share the party's principles. It cost us.

However, I'm actually pleased about what the market has done for us. It's exciting to be in our party right now �" logjams are breaking; old doors are being removed from their hinges; we're talking with neighbors we had barely met before. If you have anything reasonable to say, you'll find plenty of Republican ears ready to listen. Serious students of political history point to cycles of success and the importance of shedding activities and ideas that no longer have market applicability. They also know that, if you want to ride a cycle upward, it's best to get on board at its start and that's where I believe we are. The pace of change is impressive. Lincoln said, "We must think anew and act anew." We Republicans still hear his words.

What is most validating to me is that none of this has anything to do with our core values and principles �" they're as sound as ever. The challenge for us is translating our ideas into modern language and to make sure that our party includes all conservative, patriotic Americans.

LGBT Republicans? Of course there are. What may surprise you is that Log Cabin has grown substantially in the last year in California �" the San Francisco chapter by 25 percent. But as significant, our visibility and effectiveness in the party has followed. Here in the Bay Area, we have members on five county central committees, including a chair and several vice chairs. We also have two members on the party's state board.

Does Log Cabin's position on same-sex marriage match our party's? No, it doesn't. Does Log Cabin expect that to change? Absolutely. More than half the party is ready now. We rarely miss an opportunity to open the discussion within our party. Strong forces are at work; all part of our "market adjustment."

The world is not a simple place and we recognize that insistence on rapid change of longstanding and firmly-held ideas is usually a counterproductive position that delays the change. Meanwhile, we agree to disagree on this because we're grownups who agree on every other important issue.

We believe that limited government, fiscal sanity, a free and private market economy, and a strong national defense are fundamental to the prosperity and security of all Americans �" LGBT people included. Ignoring these will ultimately be harmful to LGBT and non-LGBT Americans alike. A sinking ship takes everyone down with it. It strains me to think that people feel that our difference with our party somehow changes our conservatism or blurs our common sense.

Log Cabiners are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone. At the recent state Republican convention, the 29 Log Cabin voting delegates got lots of attention, often from unexpected places. I found myself in chats with delegates from rural counties who likely never had a discussion about the party with an openly gay person. Those talks were win-win for both of us and, I deeply believe, for our state and nation. The degree to which my party has become "orientation blind" is far from the common stereotype.

Tom Del Becarro, the outgoing California state party chairman, stopped by our meeting and gave Log Cabin a touching thank you in which he reminded us that, despite differences, we are all Republicans.

That was very clear March 2 when virtually every member of our state leadership, including our new state chair and vice chairmen, visited Log Cabin's popular luau �" a prominent feature of California Republican conventions. They wouldn't have missed it.

In the midst of all this, we haven't forgotten our LGBT roots. Make no mistake; Log Cabiners are very proud.


Fred Schein is the president of the Log Cabin Club of San Francisco. If you want to contact him, or if you just feel like venting (we ask that you try to be original), you can email him at [email protected]. He's definitely reading his emails.