Saying he can't stomach President Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), a gay Republican leader in Ohio announced on Thursday he is becoming a Democrat.
In a letter to the chair of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, John Farina, a former official in the county's party organization and former president of the Cleveland chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, ended his 20-year association with the GOP. He also withdrew his candidacy for the Board of Elections' central committee in the March 2 primary.
Farina, 35, said in the letter that the president's announcement on Tuesday forced his decision.
"Quite frankly I'm sick over it," Farina wrote. "It is an insult to me as a lifelong Republican and it does nothing to strengthen marriage. It is an obviously political move that will do nothing but divide the nation even further. So much for Mr. Bush being a uniter."
Farina is not alone. Bush's announcement of support for the FMA presented a unique challenge for gay Republicans, many of whom vow to fight their party's leader on the issue.
Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the nation's leading gay GOP group, the Log Cabin Republicans, said the group was "more determined than ever to fight the anti-family constitutional amendment with all our resources."
More than 1 million gay and lesbian Americans voted for George W. Bush in 2000, according to Log Cabin, but some of those votes are in jeopardy this year.
Farina said he knows of one other gay Republican, who wishes to remain anonymous, who quit the party since Tuesday. GOP desertions have also begun to register on the site of conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan.
"You can only feel the love of people and institutions who fend you off with a barge pole for so long. Today I changed my registration from Republican to independent," read one letter posted on andrewsullivan.com.
John Marble, spokesman for the National Stonewall Democrats, said he thinks the anger driving some gay voters to consider switching affiliations is the "fallout" of President Bush's "divisive politics."
"Both my straight and gay Republican friends feel betrayed by the president and by the national GOP," Marble said. "By embracing the constitutional amendment, President Bush is telling our families that he believes that we can never fully belong in our own country, and certainly not in his party."
Ohio is considered a key state for Bush in the 2004 election, and Farina said he is ready to work for the president's defeat there.
"I will use my role as the state liaison for the Gill Foundation's Democracy Project to get more GLBT folks registered and to the polls," Farina told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network. "I will work with the Stonewall Democrats and the Ohio Democrats to get out the anti-Bush vote."
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