(CNSNews.com) - The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has hired an official from the Log Cabin Republicans to head its Republican outreach efforts. One pro-choice Republican leader called the move "very exciting," but conservative opponents of the nation's top abortion provider are not impressed.
Christopher Barron has served as political director of the homosexual advocacy group within the GOP since February 2004. A press release announcing his departure from the Log Cabin Republicans praised Barron for helping the organization "achieve important progress in making the conservative case for gay and lesbian equality."
In the statement, Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero said that Barron had been "a huge asset" for the organization, which chose not to endorse President Bush in the 2004 election and instead supported "inclusive" Republican candidates for Congress.
"Over the past two years, Chris Barron was on the front lines fighting for an inclusive GOP, fueling Log Cabin's unprecedented growth across America and fighting to defend our families from attacks by the voices of intolerance," Guerriero said.
The press release noted that Barron coordinated Log Cabin's lobbying efforts to defeat the "anti-family" Federal Marriage Amendment." Barron also implemented a GOP lobbying strategy for HIV/AIDS funding, hate crimes legislation, federal employment non-discrimination legislation and legislation repealing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.
"It has been an honor to serve as Log Cabin's political director during one of the most important moments for our organization and for our community," Barron said. "I look forward to continuing being a part of the Log Cabin family and continuing to support this organization in its fight for basic fairness for our families."
Guerriero wished Barron well in his new job, which he will begin in early December.
While Barron and representatives from Planned Parenthood did not return several calls seeking comment by press time, Ann E. W. Stone, national chairman of Republicans for Choice Political Action Committee, told Cybercast News Service she is "very excited about the possibilities" of Barron's new work with Planned Parenthood.
Stone noted that Planned Parenthood has been striving to mend fences with members of the GOP for at least 15 years. "They've had other people" reaching out to Republicans, Stone said, but those individuals "didn't have the breadth of experience" that Barron has.
Nevertheless, "the rank and file of Planned Parenthood has generally been pretty Republican," she said. "Some state chapters have been very Republican, and a lot of their big donors in the past have been Republican, so having somebody in there who actually is very talented and Republican is a good thing."
Stone added that Barron's open homosexuality will not be a problem for him in his new duties because "the Planned Parenthood Republicans tend to be more moderate, and they're not going to be homophobic."
However, Stone said, the same people who have problems with people being pro-choice will have problems with Barron's sexual orientation. "Being gay is just as bad as being pro-choice in their eyes."
Still, Barron "is probably the best person we've worked with," Stone noted. "He could be a very effective leader for working with all of us."
Reaction from representatives of conservative groups was less positive.
"This should be a seamless transition, given that both organizations pursue an anti-family agenda that's right at home in the culture of death," Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America's Culture & Family Institute told Cybercast News Service.
"Recall, for instance, that V. Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, spoke at a Planned Parenthood event, which didn't raise a lot of eyebrows," Knight said. "After all, both Robinson and Planned Parenthood have rejected the natural family and pursued sex outside marriage and abortion as a reasonable, logical response to an unintended pregnancy."
Amanda Banks, a federal issues analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said Barron's move is not a surprise. "This gentleman has been employed by one organization that works in contradiction to the Republican Party platform, and now he's going to work for another organization that does the same thing."
Banks also told Cybercast News Service that she differs with Log Cabin's goal of an "inclusive GOP." "I think we have a different interpretation of the word 'inclusive,'" she said.
"Certainly, both parties should strive to be inclusive regarding things like race, gender, geographical location and socioeconomic status," she added. "But that doesn't equate to selling out on fundamental rights and institutions," including the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
See Earlier Stories:
Log Cabin Republicans Endorse 'Reform Agenda' (Jan. 19, 2005)
Republican Homosexual Advocacy Group Won't Endorse Bush for Re-election (Sept. 08, 2004)
'Mainstream Republicans' Urge Party to Avoid Social Issues (Aug. 18, 2004)
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