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Log Cabins Go Against the GOP Grain

By Mike Allen and Dana Milbank
Sunday, March 27, 2005; Page A04

The Log Cabin Republicans are looking less and less Republican. Members of the group for gay and lesbian Republicans describe themselves on their Web site as "loyal Republicans" who believe in low taxes, limited government and a strong military. But Log Cabin withheld its endorsement of President Bush last year because of his support for a ban on gay marriage, and yanked the charter of its Palm Beach County, Fla., chapter when it backed the president.

Now, the group has released plans for a four-day convention and Liberty Education Forum National Symposium in New Orleans beginning Thursday, and much of the agenda doesn't look so Republican.

It focuses on "the battle for gay and lesbian civil rights." Panel topics include "Corporate Diversity"; "Family Fairness," described as "the best strategy for achieving protection and recognition for gay and lesbian families"; "Is Sexual Orientation a Choice?" (with a speaker, Chandler Burr, who has written extensively about research into a biological or genetic basis for homosexuality); and "Examining the Truth about Don't Ask, Don't Tell," about the "best way to end" the nation's policy on gays in the military.

The group's Web site does, however, embrace a couple of GOP priorities. "Social Security Reform Tops Log Cabin's 2005 Legislative Reform Agenda," it says, and "Log Cabin Applauds Introduction of Permanent Death Tax Repeal Legislation." Christopher Barron, the group's political director, said: "We believe in the classical vision of the Republican Party -- the principle of expanding the definition of liberty."

Engaging Non-College Youth

A nonprofit group called Generation Engage is taking a new crack at the perennial challenge of energizing the youth vote -- this time, by focusing on 18- to 24-year-olds who are not in college.

The group is hiring local standouts to try to reach their peers through blogs, chat rooms and other means. It says 83 percent of its budget goes to salaries for young leaders who want to make a profession of civic engagement. The idea is to create a civic network outside political parties and campaigns, as previous generations have done through union halls, Moose lodges and church groups.

Generation Engage promises to be bipartisan, but it has some clear Democratic roots. Board members include Justin Rockefeller, 25, whose father is a Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Cate Edwards, 24, daughter of the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, John Edwards.

The group recently named several regional directors for Virginia. Jonathan Morgenstein, who served as a Marine in Iraq, will focus on military bases in Norfolk. Christopher Lewis, a former captain of Harvard's basketball team, will focus on African Americans. Jason Parrish, the youngest board member of the Virginia Tobacco Growers Association, will target youth in the agriculture industry. Claire Young will target environmental groups. In Northern Virginia, Sandra Roads will focus on reaching out to Latinos.

Generation Engage executive director Adrian Talbott, 24, worked in North Carolina Democratic politics for the past six years. His older brother, Devin, 28, is the other co-founder.

Adrian Talbott said: "A lot of groups are competing over university students. Non-college students are just as interested in social change." Referring to the importance of organizing, Talbott said, "There's power in numbers. The politicians will come to you."

Schiavo Case Fails to Lift Bush, Congress

So, what did you miss while the political world was obsessed last week with the Terri Schiavo case? Not much, it turns out. Early indications are the dramatic legal battle over the brain-damaged Florida woman hasn't fundamentally altered Americans' political outlook. They are still somewhat unsatisfied with President Bush, highly unsatisfied by Congress, and unimpressed by proposals to change Social Security.

A poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, conducted March 17-21, found that 45 percent of Americans approve of Bush's job performance, essentially unchanged since February and still near his all-time low of 43 percent. Congress fared worse. Approval of its GOP leaders was 39 percent, the lowest in nearly five years, and approval of Democratic leaders was 37 percent.

Support for Bush's plan for private Social Security accounts was roughly unchanged at 44 percent. But support among young Americans for the proposed individual accounts fell sharply, to 49 percent from 66 percent in February.

Church Looks at House Ethics

Faithful America, a project of the National Council of Churches, is focusing on the ethics of House Republicans, and urging supporters to "let your elected official know that faithful voters expect a higher standard in the House."

"No nation can afford to vote away its ethical standards, and the United States, whose credibility is imperiled here and abroad, is particularly at risk of losing its shaky reputation as a moral nation," the group says in "talking points" for supporters.

Quotable

"I wouldn't want my doctor making any diagnosis on me on videotape, and I'm speaking as a medical doctor."

-- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, about Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), on a conference call with Tennessee reporters, as quoted in the (Nashville) Tennessean.


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