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The San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent article on how the “Austin 12” (the self-appointed band of gay GOP-ers who met with Bush in 2000) became disillusioned with the party after its anti-gay switch in the election cycle.

The small band of 11 gay men and one lesbian, Republicans all, who set out more than four years ago on a highly personal crusade to reconcile homosexuals and the Republican Party, today concedes utter failure.

One is leaving the party. Another resigned his Bush administration post. Their leader refuses to talk to the media. Few will even vote for President Bush. Most feel profoundly betrayed.

For the Austin 12, as they call themselves, Bush squandered a precious chance to broaden the GOP and deliberately harmed the gay civil rights movement at a historic turning point.

Bush may win re-election because of his stance, the members of the Austin 12 say, but they are certain the damage to gays and their party will take years, if not decades, to reverse.

The president’s endorsement in February of a constitutional ban on same- sex marriage broke the group’s spirit and shattered its support for Bush. To back an effort to insert into the nation’s founding document words that would exclude gays and lesbians was — for them — unforgivable.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding