Take Log Cabin in 'New Direction,' Analysts Tell GOP Group's New Leader

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The new president of the Log Cabin Republicans should take the GOP homosexual advocacy group in a "new direction" that would respect "the fundamental First Amendment right" of freedom of religion, a conservative analyst said Tuesday.

A day after Patrick Sammon was named new leader of the group, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright said she hopes Sammon will take the organization in a "new direction."

"We hope he will respect a fundamental freedom and right that the Founding Fathers of America held in such high regard that they put it in the very first amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Wright told Cybercast News Service.

"The kind of legislation homosexual activists have relentlessly pursued would infringe on religious freedom," she charged.

Wright said that in situations pitting homosexual rights against religious liberty, "those in favor of the homosexual agenda said they could not conceive of a single instance in which religious rights should ever win out."

"We're talking everything from clergy being forced to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies to hiring practices of religious organizations," she added.

Sammon, a 32-year-old Roman Catholic, has served as executive vice president of the Log Cabin Republicans since Sept. 1, when former head Patrick Guerriero moved to another organization that promotes homosexual rights.

In a news release announcing his appointment, Sammon said he would "provide a strong voice for those in our party who believe the GOP can return to power by pursuing a unifying and inclusive conservative agenda that attracts voters from both the center and the right.

"Our side is winning the fight for equality, but we must do more in the years ahead to unify all Americans, particularly conservatives, around our common values of freedom and fairness," he added.

Praise for the Log Cabin Republicans and its incoming president came from several prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who said she "welcome[d] the opportunity to continue working with Patrick and Log Cabin as we help our party return to its unifying core principles -- personal freedom, limited government and individual responsibility."

U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) said Sammon's organization "provide[s] an important voice in Washington for the gay and lesbian community."

Joe Solmonese, president of the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said Sammon "has established a reputation as a dedicated advocate and valued partner in our struggle for equality."

"As we enter a new session of Congress, it will be vital to seek out bipartisan support for our community's top legislative agenda items, and Patrick's leadership will be essential to those efforts."

Noting Sammon has a background in journalism, Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said his "strong experience working in the media and his understanding of the issues facing LGBT Americans have prepared him well for this unique leadership role."

Log Cabin national board Chairman Tim Schoeffler said Sammon's background in media and politics would give the group "a powerful conservative voice for traditional Republican principles."

However, B. Daniel Blatt, a Los Angeles-based writer who blogs at the GayPatriot website, worries that the new Log Cabin president "lacks any background in Republican politics."

Sammon "should approach the national gay groups with caution, recognizing that many of these groups' leaders see their work as part of some broad 'progressive' movement," Blatt said.

"While he should be ever cordial to these leaders, he must recognize that they are, by and large, adversaries of Republicans, even gay ones.

"Indeed, if Patrick Sammon really wants to establish himself as a conservative leader -- and to help return the GOP to its small-government roots -- he would distinguish Log Cabin from other gay groups by coming out against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," Blatt said.

"While he would make clear that he believes government agencies should not discriminate and that discrimination against gays is wrong, he would affirm the conservative principle that the federal government shouldn't interfere with the personnel decisions of private companies."

Despite his reservations on Sammon's GOP credentials, Blatt said he would "continue to hope, perhaps naively so, that Log Cabin can be a bold voice for conservative principles, the ideas of Ronald Reagan."

Wright invoked another Republican icon -- one used as a symbol by the Log Cabin Republicans -- and expressed the hope that the group would be more supportive of religious liberty.

"Abraham Lincoln himself held this fundamental freedom and right quite dear," she said, adding, "He was a man of great faith."

Make media inquiries or request an interview with Randy Hall.

Subscribe to the free CNSNews.com daily E-Brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Randy Hall.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.