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GOProud Showed Up. Which Is Very Good, But…

This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Jim Burroway

February 20th, 2010

Alexander McCobin, at Students for Liberty, welcomed GOProud to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) amid cheers and boos.

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Ryan Sorba, of the Young Conservatives of California, responded by denouncing CPAC amid boos and cheers.

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For some reason, it’s often the gays who start the hottest trends in this country. The Republican Party’s acrimonious split between the traditional followers of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine and other believers of individual freedom, and the emerging purer-than-thou wing who today would be loudly lamenting the absence of a “real Republican” if Ronald Reagan himself were alive and running for office — like so many popular trends in America — is just an imitation of what the gays had already started. It was just last April when a group of Log Cabin Republican dissidents split off to form GOProud over the former group’s perceived lack of ideological purity.

But despite GOProud’s purer-than-pure stance, it’s still regarded as being outside the mainstream among other purer-than-pure ideologues who are, in addition, also non-believers in individual freedom. But that didn’t stop GOProud from becoming sponsors of that annual purer-than-pure ideological love-fest known that is CPAC in Washington, D.C. This marks the first time a gay group has been a co-sponsor of the event. It also marks the first appearance of the John Birch Society as a co-sponsor, which had always been excluded for being too extremist.

But while the Birchers were allowed to parade around in their tinfoil hats, the GOProuders would not have a platform to to speak about gay issues at the conference. Outside of their booth with the other exhibitors, their only planned contribution that I’ve been able to discern was a talk about “Using Technology to Mobilize Conservatives.” Other than that, their message was limited to their booth.

Silence appears to be the price of admission. GOProud’s Twitter stream and web site have been uncomfortably silent over the wacky news conference at CPAC over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Okay, there hasn’t been complete silence, at least not when a good opportunity for spin comes along. Bruce Carroll, aka GayPatriot, giddily twittered, “Nation’s most vocal supporter of gay marriage & removing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell speaks at #CPAC10 – DICK CHENEY! HA.” Except Cheney didn’t utter a single peep about gay marriage or DADT. Chris Crain responds, “Gentlemen… please… we can hold the bar higher than this, can’t we?”

But as we all have come to know, it’s not enough for the purest of the purer-than-pure crowd to have us agree to shut up about our issues and rah-rah conservatism in general. It’s our mere presence, and even our very existence, that many find so horribly offensive. And that offense was on display yesterday when Ryan Sorba decided to go after CPAC for GOProud’s quiet existence. When he was boo’ed, Bruce Carroll (aka GayPatriot) celebrated, saying that this “shows that most mainstream conservatives don’t have much stomach for such nasty rhetoric.” But I have to wonder whether it’s the rhetoric they can’t stomach or the embarrassment over the fact that CSPAN cameras were capturing a dissenting speech live on national television.

Think about it. Sorba’s remarks weren’t that much nastier than those mouthed at the DADT news conference. Sorba just didn’t follow agreed-upon talking points and he compounded that by openly dissenting with fellow CPAC attendees. The boo’s started when he said he was denouncing CPAC before he even said why he was denouncing them. Was it the rhetoric they were booing? Or was it the open dissent — complete with calling people out by name — on nationwide television that garnered the boos (and cheers)?

(By the way, some are saying Sorba was boo’ed off the stage. It looks to me that he left the stage when he finished saying what he wanted to say.)

But just showing up is all it takes for GOProud to excite the purest of the purer-than-pure element, then even GOProud’s most ardent critics would have to concede that their mere presence served, at least, as a small but important measure of community service for LGBT citizens. Besides, anyone who makes life unbearably uncomfortable for the National Organization for Marriage, which found its booth located just a few short steps away from GOProud’s, is worthy of respect. Jimmy LaSalvia’s “Who’s the pansey?” line by itself is worth GOProud’s sponsorship and travel costs.

Playing rope-a-dope, which GOProud has evidently done, is a very useful role to play. The more dopes we can rope, the better. But at some point we ought to see something other than blind cheer-leading among gay conservatives. I mean please, tying Cheney’s standing ovation over his opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and support for gay marriage? Not uttering a single peep over the ridiculous news conference supporting DADT? That just looks pathetic, especially when compared to the open revolt among gay Democrats over their party’s failure to deliver on promises. I’m glad that GOProud decided to stake out a presence at CPAC, but a presence with a clear eye and critical voice would be more helpful still. Woody Allan said that 90% of life is just showing up, but he’s a moviemaker. What does he know about politics?

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Evan Hurst
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, my thought on this is that there has to be balance in our reaction to Sorba being booed. My read is similar to yours, namely that it wasn’t the content of Sorba’s tantrum that bothered the audience, but rather the tone. Even they know on some level that their bigotry is no longer socially acceptable, so when someone like Sorba goes up there without the filter, and without an air of moral authority, and just starts flinging poo, they get embarrassed.

MEANWHILE, on the “cheerleading” subject: GP ALSO giddily blogged that, despite the fact that Santorum said this morning that the top military brass might be “brainwashed” in supporting DADT repeal, that doesn’t mean he’s homophobic?

Excuse me? If he’s representative of the GOProud clan, he might as well just lay down in front of a steamroller, because his words belie a certain belief that he and his compatriots, on some level, deserve it anyway.

It’s truly gross. So I’m not ready to just get all giddy that one homophobe got booed at CPAC, ESPECIALLY as the composition of the crowd may have changed a bit this year with the more libertarian teabagger contingent being brought into the fold.

Evan Hurst
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

I would add: Santorum’s words “went over well” with the CPAC crowd, according to reports.

The GOProud people seem to be mostly thrilled that nobody has shot at them/beaten any of them up, and if that’s how low their standards are, then ew.

Richard Rush
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

It is always fascinating to watch the competition among Purity Seekers as they maneuver to become the “purest of the purer-than-pure.” (good phrase, Jim)

This could be the theme for a new TV awards show: The Purity Awards. I can imagine lots of categories, but the highest and most coveted award would be the Purest-of-the-Purer-Than-Pure Award.

Rick Brentlinger
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

I appreciate GOProud for showing up at CPAC. Its at least a beginning, however inauspicious. The fact is, all gays are not liberal.

If those of us who are conservative, either theologically or politically, want a place at the table, we have to start somewhere.

Remember, statistics tell us many of the conservatives who attended CPAC have a gay or lesbian person in their family or their circle of acquaintances.

GOProud got a place at the table at CPAC. Who knows which influential conservatives they were able to find common ground with during this convention?

My prayer is that over time, GOProud’s involvement will accomplish much good.

Burr
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

It’s detrimental to be there if you’re not going to stay true to your message. Don’t allow conservatives to use you as proof of a big tent if you don’t force them to listen to you.

GOProud and Log Cabin need to grow more of a spine.

TonyJazz
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

But Gay Patriot and GOProud are staying true to their message. They are like black people at a Mormon cathedral: out of place and ignorant of history. These are not rational people; instead, they are people who put ideological concerns of some paranoic vision over their own physical and psychological attributes. “Uncle Toms”

After all, I did see one black person in a crowd shot of the Tea Party convention…

I pity these people.

daftpunkydavid
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

this can only be a good development. anything that makes us less beholden to the democrats is welcome politics. goproud and lcr and others are doing a great job; we should support them, even if criticism like jim’s is sometimes warranted.

Timothy Kincaid
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Log Cabin has always seen itself in an Ambassadorial role. They try to advance gay rights and equality in the Republican Party and advance Republican ideals (and acceptable candidates) in the gay community. It’s a tough balancing act – and at times they can get too enthusiastic about a candidate that is not really a friend – but I appreciate their efforts. On the whole, I think they do good work.

I’m a bit more conflicted about GOPride. While Log Cabin does meet with legislators and candidates (particularly on a local level), GOPride seems to make little effort to advance gay equality or engage in gay advocacy. As best I can tell, their primary purpose is to say, “see, there are gay people who are as right wing as anyone else”.

That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad message. We do try and point out that gay folk are in every community, so I guess there is advantage in acknowledging that there are gay folk who share Sarah Palin’s view of the world.

On the other hand, I find that GOPride sees themselves as primarily in opposition to the rest of the gay community. It seems to me that they view everyone else (and that includes Log Cabin) as enemies. And that is not good.

If their message at CPAC is “gay people are conservatives too” then this is a message the CPAC crowd needs to hear. If nothing else, it can serve to eliminate a bit of the most blatant hatred. Some folks will be less likely to spew bile if they know that the person they are hurting is standing right in front of them (and getting in the habit of not saying vile things is the first step in realizing that your thinking is full of vile things).

However, if their message is, “unlike those liberal hedonistic evil gays, us GOPriders are a handful of Good Gays”, then I’m not certain whether this will help us or hurt us.

It is possible that such a message could be useful. CPAC is full of folks who hate Log Cabin and see them as RINOs because LCR does not support or endorse Republicans who are ardent enemies of our community (or, at least, they try and support the least evil in a primary). For example, LCR would NEVER argue that Santorum is not homophobic. So perhaps GOPride has access that LCR could not get to the most radical extremists in the party, and I suppose that “gay folk are like you too” isn’t entirely a bad thing for them to hear.

On the one hand, it takes away some of the “us v. them” thinking. But on the other, if GOPride is not consistently clear that they always and every time support gay rights, then the far-right may see them as justification (“see, even right thinking gays agree that they are inferior and deserve the bad treatment I’m giving them”).

Timothy Kincaid
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Burr

Don’t allow conservatives to use you as proof of a big tent if you don’t force them to listen to you.

I disagree. Let me make an analogy.

There is a difference between someone who is a public racist and someone who tells racist jokes to their friends.

The latter person knows that his behavior is not acceptable. He may even recognize that it is shameful behavior and over time minimize it or engage in positive behavior to justify it (“I may tell black jokes but I voted for Obama”).

So I think there is an advantage to having conservatives use GOPride as evidence of a big tent. It causes them to publicly acknowledge that a big tent is a good thing. They may even, over time, take action or position to help justify their biases to themselves (“I oppose gay marriage and hate crimes, but I don’t think gay people should necessarily be fired from their jobs or denied the right to visit their ‘friend’ in the hospital”).

In pointing at even a bogus example of a big tent, they are advancing the idea of the big tent.

In this example, I think that the organizers of CPAC are ‘better than’, for example, Liberty University who boycotted the event over CPAC even being allowed in the door.

Evan Hurst
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

I think you hit on a lot of the problem with GOProud, Timothy…

Instead of trying to be ambassadorial, they instead reframe GOP talking points and insert the word “gay” every now and then.

a la

“We believe the Republican party is more Totally For Serious about fighting The Terrorists (TM), and if The Terrorists attack America again, well, there are some gays in America!”

None of it is remotely related to the path of equality. AND again! They readily accepted a role (i.e. rolled over and died) in which they would not be able to advance the idea of equality except for in their little booth! If they’re not going to do that, they should just join whatever astroturf organization Dick Armey is currently pushing, because there’s no point in having a separate group for gay Republicans.

Additionally, there are two great fallacies in their reasoning. For one, they equate gay people who are political liberals with the institutional groups like HRC. Well, newsflash. Gay liberals go after HRC and GLAAD and whoever else ALL THE TIME. They’ve been reacting with some strange surprised shock at Aravosis’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Give” campaign, which I’ve found funny, because um, hello, very politically active liberals go up against our party and institutions constantly. Secondly, they position themselves, as you said, as mostly in opposition to liberal gays, as The Good Gays (i.e. the ones who roll over and die and agree that they’re second class citizens), and they create this faux victimized world where the Big Bad Liberal Gays have shut them out. Again, no. But I think that part of it is that, as studies have shown, Wingnuts see things more as black and white, where liberals tend to see the gray a lot more. For GOProud people, they can’t hold the thought in their heads that they might be opposed to liberals on most issues, but naturally allied on equality issues. But again, liberals do this all the time. To give the first “for instance” that pops into my head, I absolutely LOVE Rep. Marcy Kaptur when she goes after Wall Street and the Fed and Geithner, etc. She just kicks ass. At the same time, though, it drives me absolutely nuts when she co-sponsors things like the Stupak amendment as a “pro-life” Democrat. Sends me through the roof. Both of these thoughts can exist in my head simultaneously.

But from what I’ve seen, wingnuts just don’t work that way. With them, you’re either with ‘em or agin’ ‘em, and for whatever deep-seated psychological reasons, they’ve decided that it’s more important to “stick it to the liberals” and join up with people many of whom don’t even respect their basic dignity as people.

They go through the roof with excitement when someone like Ryan Sorba gets booed, but yet they seem fairly okay with the anti-gay press conference that happened on DADT. I mean, if you press them, they admit that it bothers them, but if you monitor their blogs, you see that they take a very GENTLE tone when disagreeing with their captors, I mean overlords, I mean Daddies.

And again, as I said above: I don’t think it’s time to too quickly assume that there is some sort of sea change going on in the GOP over gay rights, precisely because this year is a bit different, as a certain libertarian wing has jumped into the fray with more enthusiasm than they ever have before. Notice that Ron Paul won the straw poll. Institutional conservatives are NOT happy about that, but institutional conservatives are still the ones who run the movement.

Reader
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

So, Student’s for Liberty welcomed GOProud amid cheers and boo’s.

Boos for two inappropriate apostrophes.

Hearty cheers for your coverage, and your blog, otherwise.

Jim Burroway
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Reader,

Even though that was the first line of the post, it was also a hastily added late addition when I discovered the video. Thanks for the correction and compliment.

Frijondi
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

@daftpunkydavid. I’m all for being less beholden to the Democratic Party, but I don’t think teaming up with the CPAC crowd is the way to go. At best, the other attendees will probably view GOProud as a curiosity. At worst, they will trot them out as Exhibit A: good, docile, self-hating gays.

It would be much more effective for conservative-leaning gays, even those who are now Democrats, to start supporting — loudly and publicly — the few remaining Republican candidates who have not become part of the radical right. I’m thinking of people like Tom Campbell, who is an old-fashioned, small-government and low taxes kind of Republican, and who had the intestinal fortitude to oppose Prop. 8.

There will never be a place for gays at the Republican table until the grown-ups are in charge of the party again. As a lifelong Democrat, I hope that days comes, so that my own party will stop taking me for granted.

Emily K
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

What about the novel idea of supporting a third party? How about the Modern Whig Party, the Libertarian Party, or someone from the “Third Wave” movement?

Emily K
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

My apologies, I meant “Third Way” or “Third Position,” a form of centrism.

Emily K
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

Apologies AGAIN, I meant to say only “Third Way,” as “Third Position” and “Third Wave” are both forms of fascism.

Burr
February 20th, 2010 | LINK

I vote Libertarian where I can already but it’s hard to affect policy when they aren’t even kingmakers in many races let alone elected to office.

I do think if small government folks would vote Libertarian more consistently to cost the GOP enough elections they would be forced to focus more on real fiscal conservatism and kick theological fascism to the curb where it belongs.

werdna
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

@Timothy-
A small correction: Liberty University didn’t boycott CPAC–they still had a booth there–they just withdrew their sponsorship.

John
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

For one, they equate gay people who are political liberals with the institutional groups like HRC. Well, newsflash. Gay liberals go after HRC and GLAAD and whoever else ALL THE TIME.

Great. As you should. Yet “newsflash”, quite a number of gay liberals and liberals in general do the exact same stereotyping with gays who are conservative or libertarian. Gay cons and libertarians have done likewise as well.

For GOProud people, they can’t hold the thought in their heads that they might be opposed to liberals on most issues, but naturally allied on equality issues.

Uh, no. Each side may be leery of the other because their approaches differ greatly, but there are times when they merge and for a short time can work together. Since GOProud is a new group I haven’t a clue how or when this will occur, but I do expect to see it – with both sides continuing to call each other names during their short alliances of convenience to prevent getting too chummy a la LCR and Gill.

I absolutely LOVE Rep. Marcy Kaptur when she goes after Wall Street and the Fed and Geithner, etc. She just kicks ass. At the same time, though, it drives me absolutely nuts when she co-sponsors things like the Stupak amendment as a “pro-life” Democrat. Sends me through the roof. Both of these thoughts can exist in my head simultaneously.

Indeed, although Kaptur gets my praise and ire for exactly the opposite reasons you state here. ;)

But from what I’ve seen, wingnuts just don’t work that way. With them, you’re either with ‘em or agin’ ‘em, and for whatever deep-seated psychological reasons, they’ve decided that it’s more important to “stick it to the liberals” and join up with people many of whom don’t even respect their basic dignity as people.

You mean like how many gay liberals enjoy sticking it to the “Auntie Toms”, “gay kapos”, etc.? Face it: many gays cons and libertarians are dishing out what they have received for a long time from their gay brethren on the left. It is rather counter-productive in some ways but is in line with human nature. Personally I’d like to see more collaboration where possible and a de-emphasizing of “gay issues” with either the liberal or conservative agendas. Being gay does not mean one supports or opposes abortion, higher taxes, etc. Those are separate issues and linking them to being gay is a HUGE mistake.

And again, as I said above: I don’t think it’s time to too quickly assume that there is some sort of sea change going on in the GOP over gay rights, precisely because this year is a bit different, as a certain libertarian wing has jumped into the fray with more enthusiasm than they ever have before. Notice that Ron Paul won the straw poll. Institutional conservatives are NOT happy about that, but institutional conservatives are still the ones who run the movement.

There doesn’t have to be. If George Friedman’s predictions are correct in his book “The Next 100 Years”, most of these social issues are going to be resolved in the next 20 years and the social cons are fighting a losing battle. All it takes is change to our society which will occur from all facets of the political spectrum as the younger generations rise to levels of power and the older ones die off. We’ll still have our differences in politics, but being openly gay won’t really be a problem.

Tom in Lazybrook
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

I think GOProud has every right to do what they wish. I also believe that, they misrepresent our community.

GOProud, doesn’t support marriage equality, employment non-discrimination, or equal protection from violence. They say they support DADT repeal, but refuse to condemn (any Republican that opposes said repeal. Any benefits from legisilation that they actually support for Gay Americans is second or third derivative (e.g., if there were no taxes, gays wouldn’t face a marriage penalty, etc.).

If you’d like to see what I believe to be a GOProuder, take a gander at the comments on their allied site, gaypatriot. Don’t do it on a full stomach.

John
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

That’s not entirely accurate, Tom. GOProud does support same-sex marital unions, but through the legislature or public referendums and not the through the courts. I myself would prefer that approach to this, but differ from GOProud in that I am not averse to using the courts when I believe civil rights are being violated. As for employment non-discrimination, I believe GOProud supports private companies adopting such policies rather than legislation. I myself support something akin to ENDA. With regards to hate crimes laws, GOProud opposes all of them not just where sexual orientation or identity are involved. I can respect that position, but not from social cons who only take this line when gays are involved. I myself can see pros and cons for both approaches, but overall demand consistency whichever route we as a nation decide to take. IOW, if we are going to have hate crimes laws gays must be included or if these laws are such an eggregious violation of the Constitution than ALL such laws should be abolished.

CLS
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

Correction: Alex’s last name is McCobin, not Cobin. Like Jeff Frazee who was attacked by Sorba, Alex also head’s a student libertarian organization.

Timothy Kincaid
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

Having dabbled in gay Republican politics a bit, I think that neither Tom nor John quite get it right about GOProud and marriage.

I very much suspect that GOProud’s tiny handful of members do not really believe in marriage equality. They probably think that “marriage is for heterosexuals, let’s just have civil unions” and just don’t want to say it publicly.

I think that they most certainly do not believe that sexual orientation is a suspect class or that laws which discriminate are unconstitutional. (I welcome any proof to the contrary).

They support the federalist notion that states can and should be the determinors of marriage laws. And while I am sympathetic with that idea generally, unlike GOProud I believe that all men are created equal are are entitled to equality under the law. I believe that there are limitations to the powers of local legislators or even to mob vote. I’d rather have the democracy of the American Revolution than that of the French Revolution.

I’ve had far too many arguments with folks with this mindset. Underneath it all – in my experience – is a deep insecurity and a sense that they are inferior. They’ve latched onto an identity as “conservative” and unfortunately see sexual orientation as being in conflict. This isn’t to say that they will always take the anti-gay position, but that they start form the anti-gay position and hold to it as much as they can. I’m not saying that this motivates Jimmy, per se, just that this is what I’ve seen.

Candidly, I think Log Cabin is much better off without them.

Burr
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

Some more coverage of the event on Reason’s blog, with a couple comments from people who were supposedly there..

http://reason.com/blog/2010/02/21/you-know-the-lowlights-here-ar

John
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Hard to say, Tim, but I suspect you have taken it too far. GOProud is still too new and I haven’t figured them out yet myself. I’d like to see some “position papers” with their take on various issues but so far they haven’t put anything up. I was basing my opinion on what I know of the 2 principal bloggers are GayPatriot, which is sympathetic at least with GOProud (at least 1 is a member too).

John
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Thanks for posting the link, Burr. I really enjoyed this part linked through Sullivan:

http://race42008.com/2010/02/20/my-fight-with-ryan-sorba-the-kid-who-denounced-goproud/

Quo
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Maybe one day Ryan Sorba will have his own Wikipedia article, and all the commentators here who hate him will be able to vandalise it. I won’t be.

Richard Rush
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Quo, are you feeling more self-loathing than usual today because you went to the bathhouse over the weekend?

Rob in San diego
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

This is why I say Republicans and gays don’t mix. My family raised me as a Republican and I just couldn’t stomach it. Such negativity.

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