By DOUG ABRAHMS
Gannett News Service
NEW YORK - Gay Republican activists continued to press party leaders to oppose a constitutional ban on gay marriage by showcasing moderate Republicans such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a political gathering Sunday.
"I am a believer that what makes America and New York great is the right to be who you are," Bloomberg said to more than 100 delegates, activists and reporters. "I don't think we should ever use the Constitution to drive wedge issues between us."
With Bush's endorsement, the GOP leadership adopted a convention platform last week that calls for a ban on same-sex marriages.
Republican leaders tried unsuccessfully earlier this summer to get a vote in the Senate on a constitutional ban of gay marriage.
The Christian Coalition of America supports the ban and wants the House of Representatives to vote on the issue in September.
"Each (House) member must be held accountable before the November elections on support for marriage between only a man and a woman, the foundation of every civilization in human history," said Roberta Combs, president of the nation's largest Christian grass-roots group.
The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, and other gay activists within the party vow to continue fighting a ban but have not said whether the issue will lead them to withhold support for President Bush's re-election.
Republican gay activists also were angered by the party's position that the legal benefits of marriage should not be extended to civil unions of same-sex couples.
"The vicious, mean-spirited language adopted by the Platform Committee is a slap in the face to fair-minded Republicans all across our nation," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans.
The issue has highlighted one of the few major rifts within the Republican Party. While groups like the Log Cabin Republicans oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage because it strips rights from gays and lesbians, others, including Vice President Dick Cheney, don't support it because they say marriage is an issue best left to states to decide.
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