Chanting “decency and the GOP,” a predominantly black group of 25 self-styled “pro-family” activists picketed the state Republican Party headquarters in Burbank on Thursday, demanding that the GOP ban homosexual-oriented groups from its activities.
The group, led by Ezola Foster, a member of the state Republican Central Committee, harshly criticized party leaders for contributing $22,000 to the campaign of gay activist Tom Larkin, the GOP challenger to state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles).
“Perverts Pervade Political Parties,” “State GOP Ignores Straights,” “Gay Old Party” and “Families or Fairies for the GOP,” said the picketers’ hand-lettered signs.
“George Bush has said the strength of America is determined by the strength of the family,” said Foster, a teacher in South-Central Los Angeles. “Most of us have been in the Democratic Party most of our adult lives. We switched to the Republican Party because we thought it stood for family.”
Foster and her supporters have unsuccessfully waged a prolonged battle to persuade the state GOP to adopt a resolution denying the party charter to any political organization that is based on sexual preference. The measure targets the United Republican Clubs of California, which includes the gay-oriented local Log Cabin Republican Clubs and Concerned Republicans for Individual Rights.
Most recently, at the state GOP convention in September, members of an internal party committee voted unanimously to deny Foster’s resolution and leave the gay-oriented Republican clubs intact.
“They failed to convince the California Republican membership at conventions that this is a wise course,” John Kurzweil, California Republican Party communications director, said Thursday as the picketers marched below.
He called the group’s outrage over the contribution to Larkin “an overreaction.” He pointed out that $22,000 represents a small percentage of the party’s Victory ’88 campaign budget of $4.5 million. He said the group’s real beef is with the 23rd District voters who elected Larkin as the party’s nominee in June. Larkin defeated two other GOP candidates.
Foster said that when she sought an Assembly seat in the 48th District 4 years ago, the party did not support her. She lost her GOP primary, winning only 28% of the vote.
Larkin, 49, a West Hollywood real estate broker, called Foster “a hateful woman” and “a disruptive force” in the party.
“The Republican Party should be a party of inclusion,” Larkin said. “We have enough problems winning elections without throwing people out of the party. . . . The majority of Republicans want gays as members.”
He said that he convinced state Senate Minority Leader Ken Maddy (R-Fresno) that the party should invest in his campaign because he was targeting three groups of voters: the growing Korean-American and Filipino-American communities in the district as well as gays.
Democrats have a 58% to 30% registration advantage in the district, which includes Burbank, Universal City, Hollywood, West Hollywood and Silver Lake.