Congress’ only openly gay Republican member rebuked Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on Wednesday for returning a campaign contribution made by a pro-gay GOP group.
“One need not be anti-gay just to prove you are pro-family,” Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., wrote in a letter to Dole, R-Kan. “I know of no gay Republican (and frankly few gay Democrats) who seek any special class or privileges. All we seek is the end to blatant discrimination in America.”
Gunderson made public his letter to Dole following a highly publicized decision by Dole’s presidential campaign to return a $1,000 contribution made by the Log Cabin Club, a pro-gay Republican organization.
Dole’s campaign returned the money, saying the Republican presidential contender was “100 percent” opposed to the Log Cabin Club’s agenda. The public renunciation followed Dole’s effort to move to the right after he and Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, tied in an Iowa straw poll last month.
Gunderson, in his letter, noted he had supported Dole’s past presidential efforts and had endorsed him this year before being asked. When first told of the donation controversy, Gunderson said he assumed his friends had mistaken Dole’s campaign for that of “other decidedly bigoted candidates. I was embarrassed to learn I was wrong,” he said.
Gunderson questioned whether Dole would reject the support of anyone who was gay. “If this is so, do you intend to now reject my support and request those on your staff who happen to be gay to resign?”
The controversy within Republican circles over gay and lesbian organizations has spilled over to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is being asked by some conservative Christian organizations to return a $5,000 donation made by the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the largest pro-gay political action committee.