GOP Downplays Efforts to Reach Homosexual Voters, Conservatives Charge

By Lawrence Morahan | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - At a meeting with pro-family groups in Washington, a leading Republican strategist denied he was familiar with the radical agendas of some homosexual advocacy groups in an apparent effort to downplay GOP outreach to homosexual voters, conservatives charged.

Following a meeting with the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign, statements by Republican National Committee Chairman Mark Racicot "surprised" representatives of 10 national pro-family groups at a recent meeting, according to conservative activists who were present.

Racicot said he hadn't heard of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, despite this group's "aggressive" promotion of the homosexual agenda in schools, or the North American Man/Boy Love Association, a group that advocates sex between men and boys, said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America.

"I think this shows that the Republican National Committee needs to pay more attention to what's going on in this country," Knight said.

"Not every American is fixated on Iraq, foreign policy or even economics. There's a culture war that is still raging in this country, and it's intensifying, and if the Republican Party doesn't realize that and act accordingly, it's going to turn off a lot of citizens," he said.

Conservatives Gary Bauer, Ken Connor, Paul Weyrich, Richard Land and Rev. Lou Sheldon attended the meeting, which was hosted by Don Wildmon of the American Family Association.

The conservative leaders expressed their concern at Racicot's meeting with the HRC, Weyrich said.

"I told the chairman that the homosexuals like to portray themselves as being on the defensive whereas, in truth, they are on the offensive with an unacceptable agenda that they try to enforce in a vicious way," Weyrich said in a commentary Monday.

Bauer said Racicot didn't appear to understand what was at stake in the debate.

"I take the chairman at his word, and I think he's an honorable man, but I think that, like a lot of elected officials and political elites, he doesn't understand that fundamental questions like the definition of marriage are at stake in this debate," Bauer said.

He also warned that by courting the homosexual vote, Republicans risk alienating their traditional base of supporters.

"I don't see Republican leaders going to groups that are known to be against tax cuts and 'reaching out' to them because that is something fundamental the Republican Party believes in," Bauer said.

"It seems to me that likewise, they should not be reaching out to groups that totally reject the traditional values of the millions of voters who have made the Republican Party the majority party," he said.

Gary Palmer, president of the Alabama Policy Institute, agreed that seeking the homosexual vote could cost the party its traditional base, especially evangelical Christians.

"There's some drift taking place, there's no question. But I think one of the ways to bring the Republican Party back closer to the pro-family movement is for the pro-family movement to prove its value," said Palmer, who also was present at the meeting.

Evangelicals make up between 25 million and 30 million voters. However, about 15 million of them either did not vote in the 2000 election or aren't even registered to vote, he said.

President Bush demonstrated he had the ability to mobilize this bloc in the 2002 election, which focused in part on his character and the impending war on Iraq, Palmer said.

The Republican National Committee did not return calls seeking comment.

Given the high-profile nature of the dispute on homosexuality, conservatives said it would be in the GOP's interest to meet soon with former homosexuals, if only to show that they're not caving to pressure from homosexual activists who oppose recognition of this group.

Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, said Racicot agreed to meet with her and a group of former homosexuals and health care professionals who will be lobbying congressional leaders this week.

"We want them to know the truth, that you can love homosexual people - we do - but that doesn't mean I support civil unions, same-sex marriage and passing laws that regulate changeable behavior. That seems to be a difficult message to get out," Griggs said.

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