msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/8/2004 11:25:28 AM ET 2004-09-08T15:25:28

The largest group for gay men and lesbians in the Republican Party has voted overwhelmingly against endorsing President Bush for re-election this November because he favors a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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The National Board of the Log Cabin Republicans voted 22-2 Tuesday night against endorsing President Bush in 2004, the group said in a statement Wednesday. It will instead shift its “financial and political resources to defeating the radical right and supporting inclusive Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives," Log Cabin Board Chairman William Brownson of Ohio said.

The group in February criticized Bush for supporting the amendment on same-sex marriage. “Writing discrimination into our Constitution violates conservative and Republican principles,” Executive Director Patrick Guerriero said at the time. “This amendment would not strengthen marriage — it would weaken our nation.”

In a statement Wednesday, Guerriero said “Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments. The national board's vote empowers Log Cabin to maintain its integrity while furthering our goal of building a more inclusive Republican Party.”

The vote by Log Cabin's 25-member national board marks the first time since the organization opened a national office in Washington, D.C., in 1993 that its members have not endorsed a Republican nominee for President.

Log Cabin endorsed Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election and endorsed George W. Bush in 2000. Exit polls confirmed that about 1 million gays and lesbians voted for Bush in the 2000 election, including nearly 50,000 in Florida alone, Log Cabin said.

Log Cabin last month supported statements by Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, that an amendment banning same-sex marriages is unnecessary.

Cheney said he believes individual U.S. states should decide whether to sanction such marriages, but accepted Bush’s decision to pursue a ban as administration policy.

The group has also criticized what it calls “flip-flops” by John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, for statements that he opposes same-sex marriages but also opposes amending the Constitution to ban it.

Log Cabin, however, has supported Republican positions on what it has called “issues that bring us together: lower taxes, strong national defense, personal responsibility and a commitment to individual liberty.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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