RALEIGH, N.C. – The state Republican party has banned gay GOP members from setting up a booth this weekend at their state convention.
"I am extremely disappointed that the leadership of the North Carolina Republican Party is attempting to so narrowly define who can be a Republican," Ed Farthing, a retired Hickory lawyer who requested the booth, said Tuesday.
"It appears to be you must be a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (search) and married for the Republican Party to pay any attention to you. I think that is a good 1950s voter profile."
The state party leadership backs a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages (search) and said the Log Cabin Republicans (search) applied a month ago for a table at the state GOP convention, which begins Friday. The group is holding a meeting to organize a chapter in conjunction with the convention.
Last week, state GOP chairman Ferrell Blount returned the group's $75 check and said the booth would not be allowed.
"I reviewed what the Log Cabin national Web site was advocating and promoting, and in my opinion, it is diametrically opposed to the values of the North Carolina Republican Party," he said Tuesday.
Blount said he conferred with state party leaders about the booth. He said that the Log Cabin group not only pushed gay issues, but that its national Web site criticizes President Bush, who supports a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
"As state party chairman, I support the definition of marriage as being a union sanctioned by God between a man and a woman. That is what the Republican Party talks about in its platform and will talk about this weekend," Blount said.
The Log Cabin Republicans have complained to the White House, to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and to other Republican leaders about the ban, Farthing said.
State GOP delegates are scheduled to vote Friday on a platform that opposes same-sex marriages, adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples and publicly financed benefit plans for unmarried partners. The proposed platform also commends the Boy Scouts (search), who rejected gay Scout leaders, for defending decency.
"We believe that homosexuality is not normal and should not be established as an acceptable 'alternative' lifestyle either in public education or in public policy," the proposed platform says.
Chris Barron, the national political director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he found the language troubling and harmful to the GOP's future.
In conservative-leaning North Carolina, Republican candidates are speaking out in favor of a constitutional amendment, introduced in the state Senate last week, that would define marriage in North Carolina as a "union of one man and one woman." The measure would appear on the November ballot.
All the Republican gubernatorial candidates in the July 20 primary have opposed same-sex marriages. Bill Cobey, a former congressman and past state party chairman running for governor, said Republicans are responding to what they see as an assault on time-honored values.
"I'll trust God before I'll trust the mayor of San Francisco or a bunch of judges in Massachusetts," Cobey said. "We need to do everything in this country to promote families and hold families together. A marriage is between a man and a woman. You can say it comes from my faith, but it is just common sense."