Republicans

A gay GOP group’s application for formal recognition by the California Republican Party has been approved on a 861-293 vote. (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images)

By Seema Mehta
March 1, 2015

In a historic move, the California Republican Party on Sunday officially recognized a gay GOP group.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.

It is among the first gay groups officially sanctioned by a state Republican Party.

Brandon Gesicki, a delegate from Carmel who supported the effort, said the vote showed how much the party in California has changed in recent years.

“It would have been the complete opposite 15 years ago,” said Gesicki, who also turned in a proxy vote from former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado supporting the recognition. “The fringe does not control the party anymore. We truly are a big tent once again.”

Charles Moran, chairman of the Log Cabin California chapter, was visibly emotional after Sunday’s vote.

“I’m personally overwhelmed,” he said, noting that he got his start in politics as a staffer at the state party in 1999. “This is the culmination of a 15-year journey for me.”

The move comes as attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage have shifted across the United States. A February CNN poll found 42% of Republicans favored same-sex marriage, a sharp increase from previous polls.

Log Cabin was founded in California 38 years ago and was the first gay GOP group in the country. It and other groups have sparred with Republican officials and conservative leaders over the years, and received varying levels of acceptance.

The national Log Cabin group was once again turned down as a sponsor for last week’s Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in Maryland, but its executive director was invited to speak on a panel. In Texas last year, two gay Republican groups were barred from having a booth at a state party convention.

Tolerance in California has been greater. Last year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari marched in a San Diego gay-pride parade, the first statewide Republican candidate to do so. Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who is considering a run for U.S. Senate, supports same-sex marriage. The Log Cabin Luau, at which attendees don rainbow-colored leis and sip Mai Tais, is among the best-attended parties at state GOP conventions.

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