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Gay candidate's ad shows GOP diversity, LCR says

By GERRY HARRINGTON, United Press International   |   Feb. 13, 2014 at 1:39 AM   |   Comments

A U.S. congressional campaign ad that shows the candidate's same-sex partner echoes Republican Party diversity, a GOP gay and lesbian rights group chief said.

The commercial spot for Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman trying to unseat Democratic Rep. Scott Peters, "underscores the fact that Republicans no longer walk in lockstep on the issue of civil marriage equality for committed same-sex couples," Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo told United Press International.

The spot, which debuts Thursday, calls DeMaio "a problem-solver who isn't afraid to be different." Amid a patriotic and San Diego-focused montage of people from all walks of life, the commercial shows a still photo of DeMaio, 39, an openly gay Republican, holding hands with his partner, Johnathan Hale, as they marched in a gay pride parade in 2012.

It also shows DeMaio waving a rainbow flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride and LGBT social movements.

The ad, widely believed to be the first congressional campaign spot featuring a candidate's gay partner, comes at a time of rising U.S. acceptance of same-sex marriage.

But it goes against the GOP platform, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"The platform can say whatever it likes," Angelo told UPI in a phone interview.

"But there's no denying there are more than 250 Republicans nationwide who have voted for civil marriage equality, three United States senators who support civil marriage equality and two sitting congressmen who support civil marriage equality," he said.

Log Cabin Republicans -- which calls itself the nation's "largest organization representing gay conservatives and allies who support fairness, freedom and equality for all Americans" -- endorsed DeMaio in July 2013 and has donated several thousand dollars to his campaign, Angelo said.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has given $10,000 to DeMaio and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gave $5,000, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, has criticized DeMaio for supporting positions at odds with the GOP platform, the Journal said.

He labeled DeMaio "a trophy candidate" who Republicans "can point to and say to the media, 'See, we're progressive too. We've evolved,'" the Journal said.

DeMaio presents himself in his campaign spot as a "new generation Republican."

The National Organization for Marriage plans to run ads against DeMaio ahead of the June 3 primary in the hope of boosting another Republican trying to unseat Peters.

Angelo told UPI the Republican Party can win elections when it focuses on fiscal conservatism rather than social conservatism.

"The reason the Republican Party controls the House of Representatives right now is because of the Tea Party," Angelo told UPI.

The Tea Party movement helped sweep 63 Republican candidates into the House in the 2010 midterm election, recapturing the majority in the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest in any midterm election since 1938.

The movement's exclusive focus on economic and fiscal issues rather than social issues was key to Republicans' success, Angelo said.

The same formula can work again this year, he said.

"The 2014 election is the Republican Party's to lose, and if they focus on fiscal issues, they will win."

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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