Capitol Alert

Republicans’ gay rights tweet upsets California Family Council

Stuart Milk accepts the State Hall of Fame medal on behalf of his late uncle Harvey Milk from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 as he was inducted with 12 other legendary Californians into The California Museum’s California Hall of Fame.
Stuart Milk accepts the State Hall of Fame medal on behalf of his late uncle Harvey Milk from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 as he was inducted with 12 other legendary Californians into The California Museum’s California Hall of Fame. hamezcua@sacbee.com

A tweet posted earlier this month by the California Assembly Republican Caucus for Harvey Milk Day has upset some social conservatives that see the message as a betrayal of the state party and their place within it.

Representatives from the California Family Council, a Fresno-based organization that aims to “protect and foster Judeo-Christian principles in California’s laws, for the benefit of its families,” visited the Capitol on Tuesday to meet with members of the caucus about their position on the tweet.

“It’s important for socially conservative voters to know where they stand,” CEO Jonathan Keller said. “If they don’t stand by their promises, I worry that many of the people that I speak with, many of the people that contacted us over this issue, are not going to vote Republican in the next election.”

The office of Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, which posted the message, declined to comment.

On May 22, it tweeted in recognition of slain gay rights icon and former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, honoring “the legacy of a hero who paved the way for orgs like @EQCA & @LogCabinGOP 2 seek tolerance and inclusiveness.” The tweet referenced Equality California and Log Cabin Republicans, groups that advocate for LGBT rights.

Four days later, the California Family Council sent out a “breaking” email blast to its political arm, the California Family Alliance, urging members to call Mayes and ask him to delete the tweet and apologize. It also included a link to a fundraising page for Greg Burt, the organization’s “director of Capitol engagement,” and his family.

Keller said their concern is bigger than Harvey Milk Day. He believes there are “very real issues of discrimination against LGBT community” that “should be met with compassion and charity.”

But he was bothered that the tweet tagged two lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations that oppose a section of the official California Republican Party platform endorsing the “two-parent family” and marriage as a “union between one man and one woman.” Equality California is a major donor to Democratic candidates.

“It betrays the values that the Republican Party has traditionally stood for,” Keller said. “It seems like Assemblymember Mayes is trying to amend the Republican Party platform by fiat.”

With party registration dwindling statewide, California Republicans have begun experimenting with positions that expand beyond the party’s traditional stance on issues like climate change. Several Assembly members privately expressed frustration with Mayes getting ahead of the rest of the caucus on the Harvey Milk tweet, among other instances, but all declined to go on the record with their complaints.

Keller said the California Family Council has not yet heard back from Mayes’ office and is weighing its next step.

“It really makes you wonder: Why are you even a Republican?” he said.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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