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The Log Cabin Republicans (LCRs) are a political organization founded in the 1970s that identifies themselves as staunchly Republican, with a twist. Members of the Log Cabin Republicans are strong activists for many Republican values, the idea of free markets, limited government and lower taxation, especially of high earners and corporations. They especially support privacy, and identify most with President Lincoln, one of the most identifiable presidents, who was born in a log cabin. They identify with Lincoln’s Republican party at that time, which could definitely be considered the more liberal of the two parties, especially in Lincoln’s signing of the emancipation proclamation and his promotion of civil rights for all.
This issue is extremely important to Log Cabin Republicans because most members identify themselves as gay or lesbian, or in support of equal rights for gays or lesbians. While a number of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks identify more strongly with the Democratic party, many members of the Log Cabin Republicans find themselves out of step with the Democrats on many issues. Their political ideas are more aligned with those of the Republican party, and thus since the 1970s the LCRs have become an important part of the political process in avidly supporting non-discrimination of the LGBT community, promoting greater funds for AIDs research, and supporting measures like the right for individuals to marry others of their choosing.
The Log Cabin Republicans officially organized with help of then presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, who they successfully lobbied in the hopes of defeating the Brigg’s Initiative, which would have prevented most gay teachers from working in public schools. Through Reagan’s opposition to the initiative, it failed to pass, and though many thought Reagan had struck out on a path of political suicide, his subsequent election to the presidency proved naysayers wrong. Reagan’s help fueled those opposing the initiative to fully organize and form the LCR in California, and the movement has grown significantly, with Log Cabin Republicans chapters in most US states.
The LCR has not always met with a welcome reception from other Republicans, particularly those who come from an evangelical base. In 1992, for instance, Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan horrified LCR members with his anti-gay speeches at the Republican Convention. They supported President George W. Bush in his race against Vice President Al Gore in 2000, but many were disappointed with certain policy decisions concerning gay rights during the first four years of the Bush administration. In 2004, LCRs campaigned against Bush, and especially against the concept of creating a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Log Cabin Republicans have had some successes and failures, and they find themselves sometimes in opposition on LGBT rights with other Republicans, comparable to the way pro-life Democrats may feel at certain times with pro-choice Democrats. The group, though, has had its supporters including Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they certainly have their detractors. Through their lobbying efforts, they have been able to somewhat change the mindset of certain members of the Republican base, arguing especially that adhering to the constitution means adherence to strict non-discrimination and privacy.
This is a fascinating group in that the common logic suggests that LGBT folks have to buy into the Democratic party in order to advance one agenda. Clearly, that's not always the case.
I would disagree that the Log Cabin Republicans are alone in being out of step with mainstream Republicans. These days, good old conservatives are out of step with the mainstream party and that's just one group.