Big GOP faces appear in gay group's ads

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Republican gay rights group uses images of former President Reagan and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in a new ad to counter what it calls “shameful and outrageous” language against same-sex unions in the party’s platform.

The ads began airing Monday in the New York City market and on at least one national network, Fox News Channel, and will run through at least Thursday to coincide with the GOP convention, officials from the Log Cabin Republicans announced at a news conference.

“This is the opening shot in the battle for our party,” said the group’s executive director, Patrick Guerriero. “To be the majority party in America, the GOP must embrace a hopeful message.”

Most of the ads will be seen on New York feeds of cable networks such as CNN and MSNBC in order to target convention delegates who may be watching from their hotel rooms, the group said. The campaign costs roughly $100,000, but could be expanded into more markets nationwide.

Log Cabin also ran a $350,000 ad campaign in March in opposition to President Bush’s support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which fell apart in the Senate last month.

Republican gay rights supporters grew more frustrated after the GOP platform committee’s hardline stance last week against legal recognition of gay unions, including shared employee benefits. That went beyond its support of an anti-gay marriage amendment, which was also in the platform.

The latest ad opens with an image of Reagan and a soundbite from the late former president at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston: “And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Log Cabin members credit Reagan for helping to defeat a California ballot initiative in 1978 that would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s public schools.

The ad also show images of Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., two prominent Republicans who oppose a constitutional gay marriage ban.

An announcer later says, “Or will we divide the American family with the politics of intolerance and fear that only lead to hate,” as pictures of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who supported the amendment, and other critics flash on the screen.

Guerriero says an announcement on whether Log Cabin will endorse Bush this year will likely come next week.