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Pro-Gay Groups Find New Allies in the GOP

Cornyn wrote back saying that while he disagreed with the gay rights group on some issues, he would still attend the Log Cabin reception, which is a fundraiser for the organization’s political action committee.

“First, part of my job is to reach out to those committed to defeat Senate Democrats this November,” Cornyn wrote. “Second, as social conservatives we affirm the basic dignity of every human life, including not only unborn children, but also adults with whom we may disagree. I believe we are all made in the image and likeness of God.”

Although Cornyn’s appearance at the Log Cabin event is noteworthy, tonight’s events mark Mehlman’s debut in the gay-rights arena, said Cooper, who added that the former GOP official would also be speaking by video to the Log Cabin dinner, even though Mehlman will actually be at the American Foundation for Equal Rights dinner in New York.

When he came out last month, Mehlman said he would fundraise to help the legal challenge to Proposition 8, the California measure banning gay marriage.

With tickets going for $5,000 a person and $10,000 a couple, the American Foundation for Equal Rights cocktail reception at New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel has a star-studded host roster. It includes big-time GOP donor and hedge fund manager Paul E. Singer and Peter Thiel, the gay California venture capitalist who supported Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) for president in 2008.

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) and one-time Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R), longtime gay rights supporters, are backing the effort.

Also on the list is Patton Boggs partner Benjamin Ginsberg, a former RNC counsel, and former Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael Toner, a Republican who is now an adviser with Bryan Cave Strategies.

Former Rep. Michael Huffington (R-Calif.), who is gay and the ex-husband of columnist and publisher Arianna Huffington, is also a host, as is former Bush communications adviser Nicolle Wallace and GOP consultant Tom Synhorst, who was an adviser to former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.).

Other hosts include Israel Hernandez, a longtime aide to the Bush family; Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti lobbyist Bruce Mehlman, the brother of Ken Mehlman; and Margaret Hoover, who worked for the Bush campaign and is the great granddaughter of President Herbert Hoover. The event is being put together by Susan Ralston, who worked for Rove in the White House and for former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The foundation’s president is Chad Griffin, a Democrat who worked with liberal Hollywood producer Rob Reiner.

Olson and Mehlman’s involvement, Griffin said, “has removed and lifted the partisan veil.”

Of course, Democrats aren’t ceding the gay rights platform to the GOP. Plenty of the majority party’s heavy hitters are sponsoring the New York City event, including John Podesta, who heads the liberal Center for American Progress; former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.); and lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, who worked for Gephardt on the Hill.

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