WHEN some Republicans heard about Representative Tom DeLay's plan to house delegates on a chartered cruise ship during their convention in New York, the plan was abandoned for fear of reinforcing Republicans' image as staid suburbanites aloof from the city. But if they'd stuck with Mr. DeLay's plan to charter the Norwegian Dawn, they might have ended up with a different image in tabloid headlines: GRAND OLD PARTY ON GAY CRUISE SHIP.
Mr. DeLay, whose party's relation with gay voters has been awkward at best, happened to pick a ship with a great reputation among gays and lesbians. Rosie O'Donnell and her partner, Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell, have a travel company, R. Family Vacations, that has chartered the entire Norwegian Dawn next summer for what the company advertises as "the very first gay and lesbian family cruise" with "our very own special brand of gay and lesbian family-friendly fun."
The ship is also a favorite of Atlantis Events, a gay and lesbian tour company based in Hollywood that has advertised its trips with a different kind of marketing: "Three of the best gay D.J.'s spinning today will keep you dancing until the sun comes up." The company's president, Rich Campbell, said he was ready to help Mr. DeLay and his delegates dance the night away.
"I thought of calling Tom's office," he said, "and saying: `I'm with a gay cruise company. Let me tell you why this is such a wonderful ship. I'd be happy to provide entertainment and consulting service.'