Cathie Adams’ selection to lead state’s Republican Party a blow to efforts toward inclusivity, say Dallas County gay, GOP leaders
The president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas says he’s disappointed but not surprised that the longtime leader of the anti-gay Texas Eagle Forum was recently elected chairwoman of the state GOP.
Meanwhile, the gay-friendly chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party says he believes Cathie Adams’ election last weekend sets the state party back at least five years in its efforts to become more inclusive.
And the president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas says she believes the move is a sign of panic on the part of Texas Republicans who recognize that they’re losing their grip on power in the state.
Adams, 59, of Dallas, was elected on Saturday, Oct. 24 to replace Tina Benkiser, who stepped down to become a senior campaign advisor for Gov. Rick Perry.
Since 1993 Adams has led the right-wing Texas Eagle Forum, the state chapter of a national organization that describes itself as “leading the pro-family movement.” The Eagle Forum was founded in 1967 by Phyllis Schlafly, who continues to be its president. Adams is well known in North Texas as a leading local crusader against LGBT equality.
“The good news is, my understanding is that she has to step down from the Eagle Forum and resign as a committeewoman for the Republican National Committee,” said Rob Schlien, president of Log Cabin, the LGBT Republican group, struggling to put a positive spin on Adams’ election.
Adams couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Schlein added that he doesn’t believe Adams’ election will hamper Log Cabin’s efforts to gain acceptance in the local Republican Party. In the last few years, the local Log Cabin chapter has received visits from the likes of Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions.
“It doesn’t impact me one way or another,” Schlein said. “Would I have liked a different result? Sure. But I haven’t had any dealings with the state party chair in the past, and I don’t suspect that I’ll have any dealings with Cathie, either.”
Jonathan Neerman, chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party, agreed that Adams’ election won’t change the way the local party operates. Neerman has been an advocate for welcoming LGBT Republicans into the fold, for which he’s been publicly criticized by Adams.
“Five years, 10 years, take your pick as to what the years are,” Neerman said when asked to elaborate on how far he believes Adams’ election has set the state party back. “From a policy standpoint, I’m not sure the party will change much under Cathie. My concern is we had an opportunity to find a chair with a vision for the Republican Party in the future that includes new people and a willingness to encourage new people to get engaged in the process. I don’t see that that’s happened.”
Asked whether he believes Adams’ election will ultimately have a negative impact on LGBT equality, Neerman said he doesn’t think so.
“I think the legislators at the end of the day are going to make their own decisions regardless of the state party,” Neerman said. “I don’t know if the rhetoric on any issue will ramp up.”
Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, agreed that it’s unlikely that Adams’ election will hurt the community. Moore said state party chairs are mostly involved with campaign fundraising and strategy.
“It think it’s a panic move,” she said. “I think they think that they’re not expanding, that rather they’re losing their base because of all the stupidity over the last eight years, so I think they’re trying to get back to their roots, and she is as extreme as they come. Eagle Forum is Stone Age Republican. She’s as out there as they come.
“I think they’re panicking because Texas is in play now, Texas is deemed a purple state and viable for the next presidential election.”
A LOOK AT SOME OF CATHIE ADAMS’ ANTI-GAY RHETORIC
“Sodomy is a monster. I think the judge is making law, not interpreting law.’
Dallas Morning News, 1992, on a state district judge’s decision to strike down a policy prohibiting gays and lesbians from joining the Dallas Police Department
“Most definitely. It is an unhealthy choice. There could be a genetic likelihood of one person having a bad temper. That doesn’t mean it’s something that you leave totally uncontrolled.”
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 30, 1994, in a Q&A, asked whether she believes being gay is a choice
“It could mean transsexuals, bisexuals or pedophiles. What does it mean? I don’t think it’s wise to assume it is just homosexuals.”
Dallas Morning News, June 27, 1995, arguing that the term “sexual orientation” is too vague, in a story about DART considering a ban on anti-gay job bias
“It just breaks my heart that what has been good policy throughout millennia is now being thrust aside.”
Dallas Morning News, June 1, 2008, in an article about Texas couples traveling to California to get married
“When he was sworn in at the Convention Center — and I was there — to introduce his partner instead of a wife is not a healthy sign for the city of Dallas. It’s certainly not healthy for our children to be looking at that and be confused of the definition of family.”
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 21, 1996, in an article about openly gay City Councilman Craig McDaniel’s decision to not seek re-election
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 30, 2009.