After 4 years at helm of national gay Republican organization, activist leaving to head up new rights group
Patrick Guerriero, president of Log Cabin Republicans, has announced his resignation after four years of leading the national gay political group.
Guerriero will leave his post in September to become executive director of the Gill Action Fund. The new GLBT rights group was created by philanthropist and software entrepreneur Tim Gill to support key political groups and their causes.
Carla Halbrook, a member of the group’s board of directors who lives in Dallas, said Guerriero would be greatly missed by the group.
“He’s been a fantastic executive director and he’s done a lot of good things for the organization,” Halbrook said, “He’s leaving us in a really good spot.”
Guerriero said his service to the group had been rewarding.
“It has been a humbling experience leading Log Cabin Republicans during the past four years,” Guerriero said. “I’m proud of what thousands of courageous Log Cabin members across America have accomplished as we work to build an inclusive Republican Party and a better America.”
Guerriero traveled an estimated 750,000 miles to 300 cities in all 50 states in support of local Log Cabin Republican groups and the national organization. His tenure saw a growth in membership of thousands, dozens of new chapters and a 400 percent increase in the annual operating budget of the national group.
“He’s done so much traveling for the group that I always said I wanted to make him one of those rock and roll T-shirts with the cities he had been to in just the last six months,” Halbrook said. “That’s all that would fit on a T-shirt.”
Halbrook said the group would be looking for a replacement for Guerriero who has similar qualities to him.
“Somebody who is fiercely energetic, somebody who is very imaginative as far as what we can do, somebody who has got a good working knowledge of what goes on up on the hill and good repertoire with people on the hill,” Halbrook said.
Guerrerio’s leadership is credited with putting Log Cabin Republicans on the frontlines of the fight for GLBT equality and greater acceptance in the Republican Party.
Former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri, spoke at Log Cabin Republican’s recent national convention, which was its largest ever. Danforth said Log Cabin Republicans would likely be at the “heart of a movement to reclaim our Republican Party from where it has gone now.”
Guerrerio promised when he assumed leadership of Log Cabin Republicans to commit to bipartisan work aimed at advancing the GLBT rights movement. It led to unprecedented collaboration and dialogue with other GLBT groups.
Former Human Rights Campaign executive director Elizabeth Birch praised Guerriero.
“Patrick has reached out extensively to Republicans and Democrats alike,” Birch said. “He has been among the most principled leaders of our movement for equality. Patrick is a good person of good character and does not ever take the easy road. He takes the heat but stays the course.”
Guerriero is also credited with increasing the role of women in the gay political group. Six women have been elected to serve on the national board of directors since 2002.
Gill said Guerriero was chosen to lead the Action Fund because of his performance as a candidate, politician and leader.
“Patrick Guerriero has proven himself a skilled candidate who has never lost an election, as well as a coalition builder who has worked well with Republicans, Democrats and other gay and lesbian organizations,” Gill said. “His leadership will help us develop successful bipartisan strategies to move toward equality.”
Guerriero said he looks forward to more progress for Log Cabin Republicans this summer. He will remain active until his departure, he said.
“Log Cabin has much to do before I leave opening new offices on Pennsylvania Avenue, helping protect and support our GOP allies vulnerable in the 2006 elections, defeating the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate and House, and continuing to build on our historic grassroots growth and power across America.”
Guerrerio said he is also looking forward to his new role with the Gill Action Fund. As chief spokesman for the group, he will be responsible for developing strategies, building operational structure, establishing strong relationships with local and national GLBT groups and developing partnerships with a broad range of Republican and Democratic Party organizations.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to lead Gill Action,” Guerriero said. “Our side is winning because millions of courageous Americans are standing up for basic fairness. I look forward to helping their efforts as we move closer to equality for all.”
Under Guerrerio’s leadership Log Cabin Republicans’ profile rose. In March 2004 he launched the nation’s first television ad opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment. In October 2004 the group filed the first lawsuit challenging “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In 2005, Guerrerio wrote an op-ed encouraging gay conservatives to come out and join the fight for equality.
Guerriero is a former Massachusetts state representative and mayor of Melrose, a Boston suburb. He stepped down as mayor to become deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jane Swift.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 26, 2006.