LOS ANGELES: It turns out Bob Dornan has a compassionate side. Brian Bennett, a top Dornan aide to Dornan for 12 years until 1989, has now come forward with what he called an agonizing struggle: being Republican, conservative, and gay in the House of Dornan. Bennett said he never would have been able to confront his homosexuality while working for Dornan. But in February 1996, when he told Dornan of his orientation while driving his former boss home from dinner, he got a surprising reaction. "I said, I'm gay," Bennett recalled in Thursday's Los Angeles Times. "There was a pause that seemed like an hour and then he reached over, put his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek and said, "I've loved you like a son for 20 years. Did you think this would make any difference?"' That doesn't mean the man who has publicly denounced homosexuals as sodomites and pedophiles has changed his ways. When it comes to Bennett, however, the old vitriol sounds a lot like pity. "Brian thinks this is a gift, and I think it's an ax," Dornan said. "He's run up against an immovable object with me, but it has nothing to do with my feelings for Brian," Dornan said. "The love will be there forever."