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If you hate your community, you’ll love Ann Coulter

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2011

Politics is in many ways a game of association. Who is elected, what bills are supported or opposed, which allocation is prioritized are based on group affiliation and political identity. And political identity is created in two ways: primarily who we are, but sometimes who we are not.

Who we are is based on shared experiences and often guides positions that impact members of a group. Who we are not, however, can have murky motivations and can run the risk of becoming bigotry. And, of course, each of our identities have elements of both.

But, in our community the contrast in ways of defining oneself is dramatically illustrated by looking at Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud. Both organizations identify as gay Republicans, but the way in which they view that identity and on what it is based are worlds apart.

Log Cabin Republicans see themselves as full members of the gay community and as lobbyists on the community’s behalf to the Party. This is no small job, and consequently legislation and issues of inclusion that directly impact LGBT people are their primary focus (along with being ambassadors of sorts, building bridges, nurturing relationships, and being the face of the community in Republican circles.)

So it was natural for Log Cabin (being on the pro-military end of the community) to step up and craft a multi-year three pronged attack on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that ultimately led to the reversal of that policy and (depending on the eventual outcome of the case) may establish precedent for finding anti-gay policies as unconstitutional.

Log Cabin sees their Republicanism primarily through the lens of fiscal policy, defense, and localized government. This isn’t to suggest that they pay no attention to social issues – they do – but rather that such issues are based on their analysis rather than handed down from the Party. And, as such, they work to support Republicans who share their fiscal conservatism but are not anti-gay and to serve as a source for the roughly one third of the community that votes Republican, providing analysis on candidates and issues.

Although Log Cabin has been attacked by social conservatives and anti-gay activists and the far right, they are not defined by their opponents. Knowing that in many many situations every possible vote counts, Log Cabin strives for communication, relationship, and access wherever they see an opportunity – even when those opportunities might raise eyebrows from others in our community. And they are careful not to make opposition to a candidate a part of their strategy, utilizing instead a “refusal to endorse” which has, in a number of presidential campaigns, made front page news and forced candidate concessions.

On the other hand, GOProud – who broke from Log Cabin in April 2009 – is primarily focused on who they are not: the Gay Left. And their fierce opposition to the Gay Left appears to drive all of their actions and statements.

The so-called “gay agenda” is defined by the left through a narrow prism of legislative goals. In contrast to the approach of the left, GOProud’s agenda emphasizes conservative and libertarian principles that will improve the daily lives of all Americans, but especially gay and lesbian Americans.

GOProud ostensibly is a gay organization, in that their tiny membership is comprised of people who are homosexual. But while the language of their positions pays token homage to the existence of gay people, most have no specific bearing on the issues of importance to actual living breathing gay folk.

And the gay and lesbian Americans for whom they are supposedly advocating seem to either be theoretical or limited to their own membership. Although Log Cabin agrees with the fiscal position stated in most of GOProud’s 10 legislative priorities, they too are “absolutely, unquestionably, too far to the left” because LCR’s legislative agenda is comprised of pro-gay advocacy. And by looking at the totality of GOProud’s statements, actions, programs and advertising, it soon becomes evident that by the Gay Left, they mean anyone who views gay people as entitled to equality and inclusion.

Perhaps GOProud did not set out to be the organization they have become. Perhaps they wanted to focus on, say, supporting the Second Amendment, but discovered that no one really cared about their perspective on that subject. Nor did the press come calling for their views on health care reform.

But as a group of gay people willing and ready to demean other gay people and to attack their priorities, that made for good television. And whether it was their original intention, opposition to pro-gay advocates rather than support for conservative principles appears to now be the motivation for every action.

And while GOProud has not yet actively opposed specific goals towards equality, they have sought to punish those within the Republican Party who support those goals.

In the last election, they got involved in the California senate primary. They did not support anyone, but they ran an add in opposition to Tom Campbell, a Log Cabin ally. They compared him to Didi Scozzafava and declared him to be too far to the Left. As best I can tell, the issue which unites the two is that they both are pro-gay Republicans.

I’m not a psychologist, but there appears to be a couple things going on here. Part of GOProud’s antics can be seen as antagonism towards Log Cabin for not turning the organization over to them. And no doubt part is anger at a community which has not adopted the values that GOProud endorses.

But by focusing entirely on their opposition to the Gay Left, and defining Gay Left in such a way as to include every gay person who supports the community’s legislative goals, GOProud ceased being pro-Republican and now are best described as an anti-gay organization. Not anti-gay in the sense that they campaign against legislation that we support or in the sense that they seek laws to harm gay people, but anti-gay in the sense that they oppose gay people.

We are discussing a group who, while homosexual, have nothing but contempt for other homosexuals who see seek equality. GOProud members see themselves as different from such “Left” gays. And it soon becomes evident that it is not some leftist agenda that offends GOProud, but rather self-pride and an unwillingness to accept an inferior role. It is the gayness of the gay community that so offends them.

And the “why” is just sitting there waiting to be said. For decades, those who seemed to believe that orientation dictated fiscal policy would shrilly declare, “Log Cabin members are just a bunch of self-loathing Auntie Toms.” (Log Cabin members just role their eyes at that original bon mot)

But I am becoming more and more convinced that GOProud could be the real thing.

Oh they don’t loath themselves entirely, they are far to arrogant for that. But they do seem to loath that part which they share with you and I. Otherwise it is difficult to understand a strategy that recognizes that gay people are targeted for discrimination, but which consistently attacks any effort to correct it. And other than some desire to compensate for their feeling of inadequacy, it is difficult to understand the motivation behind consistently demeaning gay allies and praising those who treat us with contempt.

And it was an obvious attempt to spite the gay community – and to attract attention to their organization – that inspired GOProud to hire Ann Coulter to come deliver a speech in opposition to gay rights. And it did get them some attention.

But it also demonstrated their priorities. Even assuming that supporting conservatives was a higher priority for the group than advocating for equality, when they accepted Coulter’s criticism of Ted Olson, whose conservative credentials far outweigh Coulter’s, based solely on his support for marriage equality, then any question about GOProud’s nature evaporated. GOProud is comprised of people who see homosexuals as intrinsically inferior to heterosexuals and who accept slurs and inequality as their due.

And we cannot discount the confirmation that GOProud feels from people like Coulter. Sharing her opposition to self-accepting gay people, they get to be “good gays” and “Real Republicans” by contrast.

And as Coulter went on with her usual anti-gay snark as part of her increasingly predictable and boring shtick, it provided further opportunity for GOProud to set themselves apart from those who have self-respect. Unlike “leftists” like NGLTF or HRC or “leftists” like you and me or even “leftists” like Log Cabin, the “non-leftist” GOProud members will reward those who see them they are inferior.

When Ann Coulter went on Joy Behar’s show and tried to shock Joy by saying that the military should be limited to heterosexual men (the same with firemen), that she wishes that everyone would shut up about gays, and that “there are some people” for whom reparative therapy works, most people saw this as offensive towards gay people. And it was to that attitude that Log Cabin responded:

“Ann Coulter is not a serious part of the conservative movement – her positions are a throwback and do more harm than anything else,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of Log Cabin Republicans. “Her remarks endorsing the widely outdated and profoundly harmful idea of ‘reparative therapy,’ alleging that one can ‘pray the gay away,’ are not only demeaning to gays and lesbians, but are offensive to all people of faith. God in his infinite wisdom created us the way we are and pundits and politicians cannot change that. While her position on this matter is off base, it is exacerbated by her claim that the armed forces should bring back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ a failed policy which impedes military readiness. Servicemembers who put their lives on the line deserve respect, not such clownish behavior. Ann Coulter may be tired of gay and lesbian Americans speaking out, but Americans, gay and straight, are tired of her overwrought and offensive behavior. Frankly, Coulter’s act has gotten stale. It’s time to change the channel.”

GOProud, on the other hand, rewarded Coulter. Evidently she had said what they wanted to have said. In fact, she delighted the tiny group so much that they invited her to join their “advisory board”.

Today, GOProud, the only national organization of gay conservatives and their allies, announced that Ann Coulter was joining the organization’s Advisory Council as Honorary Chair. Coulter’s official title will be “Gay Icon.” “Ann Coulter is a brilliant and fearless leader of the conservative movement, we are honored to have her as part of GOProud’s leadership,” said Christopher Barron, Chairman of GOProud’s Board. “Ann helped put our organization on the map. Politics is full of the meek, the compromising and the apologists – Ann, like GOProud, is the exact opposite of all of those things. We need more Ann Coulters.”

And in this, they may have gone too far. Their silly slap at gay people – calling Coulter a “Gay Icon” – comes off less as clever and in-your-face and instead feels desperate and pathetic. Even anti-gay social conservatives know when self-deprecation crosses over into self-loathing.

They might have once earned the respect of other Republicans, even socially conservative Republicans, by just not talking about “that gay stuff” and supporting the Party on other issue. But no one loves the guy who hates himself and if you declare your inferiority, no one is going to disagree.

Once the community shrugs and feels more pity than anger towards GOProud, they will no longer be interesting to Coulter. Their far-right friends have no use for a homosexual who is just ignored by the ‘homosexual activist elite’, and Fox News isn’t going to have them on when the novelty wares off.

But, hey, at least unlike every other gay person of any political persuasion that doesn’t harbor internal shame over being gay, they can hold up their head and say that they are not the Gay Left. And that’s something.

Comments

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TomTallis
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

I think that GOProud is a Rovian funded stealth organization designed to undermine the more moderate Log Cabin Republicans.

Their rants reek of being scripted by Rovian operatives.

tim
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

Calling someone “self-loathing” is a cop out argument and is used way too frequently. While neither GOPround or Coulter have any type of moral or ethical base and their priorities are out of whack – it doesn’t make them “self-loathing”.

PhilDC
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

I agree with everything you wrote but it always seemed to me, in addition, that the GOPROUD folk deal with homophobia through delusion. That is, they can’t deal with the fact that our society is still homophobic because it means that they cannot be fully members of the ruling class. They can’t abide this thought so they pretend homophobia simply doesn’t exist. A lot of their actions make sense through this lens imho; i.e. attending CPAC and pretending as though everyone wants them there, saying that the “most important thing to the gay community” is defeating Obama, etc.

Just a thought.

CPT_Doom
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

Um, it’s not “Auntie Toms,” it’s “Aunt Marys” after Mary Cheney, who not only supported the anti-gay Bush administration, she ran the Vice Presidential operations for the 2004 campaign and was reportedly behind the fake indignation campaign launched by the campaign when Kerry mentioned her Sapphic tendencies.

Oh, and the LCR is far more accurate about the state of Ann Coulter and the conservative movement than GOProud. Coulter is an intellectual pornographer who adds absolutely nothing to the national political discourse and has no weapons in her aresenal beyond attacks, insults, and unsubstantiated rumors. Once her looks fade and the silicone in her chest drops, she will be useless to the Conservative Movement. As it stands right now, her book sales would be abysmal if it weren’t for the fat frat boys who can’t get dates using her book jacket photos for self pleasure.

Matt
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

I’m not a psychologist, but there appears to be a couple things going on here. Part of GOProud’s antics can be seen as antagonism towards Log Cabin for not turning the organization over to them. And no doubt part is anger at a community which has not adopted the values that GOProud endorses.

I think these observations are very likely true.

GOProud also fails from a conservative perspective. Conservatives are supposed to be opposed to identity politics, balkanization, dividing people up on the basis race, gender, etc. See, for instance, conservative resistance to the government inquiring citizens about their race on census forms.

It might make sense for GOProud to exist if their purpose was to influence their party (or the country) on gay issues, but since they don’t do that, the group is merely a self-segregated gay ghetto. If its members wish to advocate for lower taxes or the defeat of Obama, it’s unclear why they need to do so as gays in a gay organization rather than simply as part of the Republican Party.

Matt
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

On the other hand, GOProud – who broke from Log Cabin in April 2009 – is primarily focused on who they are not: the Gay Left.

I think this really gets to the heart of it.

But I also think it’s true, unfornately, that a whole lot of politics can be traced to this– a focus on “who we are not” — I think, for example, of how the two biggest “ethnic immigrant” groups in the Northeast, the Irish and the Italians, acted, politics-wise, in the early 20th century. The Italians were Republicans because the Irish were Democrats. The focus on “who we are not.”

How many political commenters write about the other side (to deride the crazies they see there) much more often than they discuss their own concerns and ideas? Probably most of them.

I guess it doesn’t need to be pointed out that politics is not the arena to find lots of examples of shining humanity.

Theo
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

I never understood what GOProud was about. When they formed, they claimed that they would be a gay group that did not deal primarily with gay issues, but rather with issues like gun rights and health care reform. Of course, GOProud has no special expertise or experience in any of these areas, so the public at large wouldn’t particularly care what they have to say. The only function they could serve would be to sell GOP positions on these issues to the gay community, for example, by arguing that gays could defend themselves better if they had easier access to handguns or that the estate tax hurts gay people disproportionately b/c gays do not enjoy the marital exemption. However, for this to have any chance of working, GOProud would have to make a significant effort to be taken seriously w/in the gay community. But instead, it has gone out of its way to alienate itself from the gay community. So it is hard to see what their strategy is, or if they ever had one.

By contrast, LCR has really shown what can be done when gays work in both parties. Success in repealing DADT and in passing marriage in NY came about in part b/c of their involvement in bringing a devastatingly successful lawsuit, and in bringing moderate GOP votes to our side.

TonyJazz
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

Sorry, Tim, but self-loathing does describe the few members of this organization. Their posture is clearly anti-gay and anti-civil rights.

What bugs me more is the attention that this tiny group of people gets (not to complain about this article).

Every sign indicates that the so-called GOProud is only a handful of people, some of whom are probably not gay.

I can find a handful of gay people on every corner in San Francisco with the opposite points-of-view—-yet these ridiculous people garner enough press to represent a movement.

They represent a movement, alright, but not that type of movement. (snark intended)

Theo
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

“. . . legislation and issues of inclusion that directly impact LGBT people are their primary focus”

Wrong. Legislation and issues of inclusion that directly impact gay, lesbian, and, by extension, bisexual people are the their primary focus.

http://www.logcabin.org/site/c.nsKSL7PMLpF/b.5466967/k.C986/About_Us.htm

There is no such thing as “LGBT people”. My understanding is that LCR takes no formal position on “trans” issues, but in practice is sympathetic and views trans people as allies. However, they have not succumbed to the Borg-like acceptance of the risible myth that Ts form a singular community with gays, nor do they believe that there is some moral obligation to hold gay civil rights hostage to issues like transsexual bathroom usage.

Mark D. F.
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

I think there is very little point in discussing this tiny group anymore. Yes, they are a bunch of crazies. Now let’s move on.

chrissypoo
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

GOProud has a lot in common with the ex-gay movement.

They share a general hatred for gay men and women. They desperately seek approval from those who hate them.

I’ve always thought that there should be gays in both parties, but GOProud isn’t doing anyone any favors and certainly won’t make any meaningful changes within the party to accept gays.

Priya Lynn
August 10th, 2011 | LINK

Tim said “Calling someone “self-loathing” is a cop out argument and is used way too frequently. While neither GOPround or Coulter have any type of moral or ethical base and their priorities are out of whack – it doesn’t make them “self-loathing”.”.

Yeah…I’m sticking with self-loathing. Its difficult to conceive of anything that would motivate their behavior other than self-loathing.

Theo said “There is no such thing as “LGBT people”.”.

I’ve got a surprise for you Theo:

I’m an LGBT person. I know lots of other LGBT people. Your denial of our existence won’t make us disappear.

Ryan
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, can you give an example of a candidate concession that the Log Cabinites provoked by refusing to endorse a Republican presidential candidate? As far as I can recall, no GOP presidential candidate has ever supported any gay rights at all.

Ryan
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

Sorry, excluding people like Huntsman and Karger who have no chance of winning, of course.

Gus
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

GOProud vs. Log Cabin shows us what is going on in the Republican Party and coverage of US politics in general. GOProud is following the current fashion of rigid, extremist policies whipped up in Astroturf campaigns and conservative media, while Log Cabin is the reasonable Republicans I knew growing up who used to run the Party. Am I the only one old enough to remember the Log Cabin was met with the same derision now given to GOProud? GOProud and the Republican Party is currently so far to the right it makes Log Cabin RINOs and allows the moderate, centrist President Obama to be called a communist.

Donny D.
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

Theo wrote:

The only function [GOProud] could serve would be to sell GOP positions on these issues to the gay community, for example, by arguing that gays could defend themselves better if they had easier access to handguns or that the estate tax hurts gay people disproportionately b/c gays do not enjoy the marital exemption. However, for this to have any chance of working, GOProud would have to make a significant effort to be taken seriously w/in the gay community. But instead, it has gone out of its way to alienate itself from the gay community. So it is hard to see what their strategy is, or if they ever had one.

I don’t see that at all. The vociferousness of their attack on the great majority of the gay community that is to the left of them tells me that they have no interest in engaging in a productive manner with the rest of us. I see their goals as these:

1) To bring together the small minority of gay people who strongly agree with most or all of what the Republican conservative propaganda machine puts out; to let those people know there are others like them.

2) To prove to straight Republican conservatives that gay people can be okay.

I’ve had years of dealing with this kind of LGB and even T conservative, and I don’t see them all as self-hating. But the GOProud/gaypatriot.net variety of gay conservatism has no problem with including self-haters.

This type of gay conservative’s defining emotion is anger toward the great majority of the gay community, which, lets be honest, can be pretty nasty to any gay person discovered to be Republican or (at all) conservative. This anger is felt even more strongly by Republican conservative lesbians than it is by the men (not surprisingly, since they are even more outnumbered by left of center gay people of their gender). The women are very open and out, while the men are often less so. One gets the feelings the men are more likely to be struggling with feelings of self-dislike for being gay.

Donny D.
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

Gus wrote:

GOProud is following the current fashion of rigid, extremist policies whipped up in Astroturf campaigns and conservative media, while Log Cabin is the reasonable Republicans I knew growing up who used to run the Party.

That really says it (though I’d replace “reasonable” with “less unreasonable” :).

Am I the only one old enough to remember the Log Cabin was met with the same derision now given to GOProud?

I’m old enough but don’t remember things the way you do. Yes, there was some derision of the Log Cabin Club, but before 1992, gay Republicans were still considered part of the community. It seemed to me that in ’92 the community turned heavily against its Republicans, just as the Republican Party was turning decisively against gay people. After that time, I never heard anything about local (San Francisco) gay Republicans, and I started hearing Republicans, gay and straight, complain of being treated with real nastiness by left of center people. I’ve heard this enough times from enough different people that I believe it. I’ve even seen it happen.

Basically, Republican conservatism has changed, so LGBT people’s attitudes have changed toward conservatism and the Republican Party.

One huge difference is that gay Republicans used to support anti-discrimination laws. The only people in the community who didn’t were libertarians. But to be an “acceptable” Republican conservative nowadays means supporting the “rights” of the wealthy and business whenever possible, so gay conservatives of that type are “neutral” on, or openly opposed to non-marital, non-military anti-discrimination laws. While the self-haters and “pragmatists” play down their support of marriage equality so straight GOP conservatives won’t feel uncomfortable. It’s no wonder the GOProud types are considered by so many to not be part of the community. And given their continuing support of the modern, more anti-LGBT Republican Party, it’s no wonder community skepticism of the Log Cabin-ers has increased.

Loki
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

I started hearing Republicans, gay and straight, complain of being treated with real nastiness by left of center people.

Well, generally when one defends the powerful against the powerless, a little “nastiness” is to be expected. But it’s all just a game of faux-victimization to cover the intense, endless stream of real and vile hostility that comes from the right.

Timothy Kincaid
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

Ryan,

LCR has not gotten Republican candidates to vow to be fierce advocates or to achieve specific gay legislation. And though ever four years there is a mad scramble to see if there are sufficient votes that can be persuaded on some subcommittee or other to get some of the raging homophobia out of the party platform – so far without success.

Much of LCR’s successes have been less visible – often to convince campaigns not to take certain actions or use certain language (and yes, oh yes, it could have been much worse).

But one example of positive proactive concessions is fairly public:

During the 2000 campaign, the Bush Campaign agreed to a series of demands including that an openly gay person address the Convention during prime time. Mostly, they wanted to avoid happening to Bush what happened to *Dole.

Kolbe didn’t mention his orientation, but everyone in the room knew why he was at the podium. This may not seem like much to non-Republicans, but the symbolism was understood within the room. I think that was the first time that some social conservatives realized that they really are going to lose.

(* In 1996 Dole courted LCR and met with the LCR President to discuss policy – particularly on AIDS issues. But when anti-gays discovered that LCR had given an inconsequential $1,000 contribution to Dole’s campaign, they demanded that he repudiate the group. His campaign panicked and returned the contribution and declared that Dole had nothing in common with LCR.

LCR took the back-story to the press and when it hit the front page of the NYTimes and newspapers across the nation, it became (according to Bob Woodward) the basis for a national impression of Bob Dole, the person, as intolerant.)

Theo
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

To be useful and effective, LCR does not need to turn the GOP pro-gay, although that is certainly the goal for the very long term. What they strive to do, and to an extent succeed at, is to form a countervailing force to partially neutralize the Christian Right on gay issues. This usually manifests in low profile ways, such as thwarting hostile actions or paving the way for small positive legislative or regulatory actions.

Examples would include GOP inaction to attack gay marriage in DC, inclusion of gay couples in the 9/11 compensation fund (enacted by a GOP-controlled Congress), or the quiet continuation by GWB of a Clinton-era executive order banning anti-gay discrimination in the executive branch, as well as the anti-discrimination policies in the CIA and FBI. Going back a bit further in time, there was the signing of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, a precursor to the 2009 hate crimes law, by Bush the Elder.

On the state level, it is extremely important to have some GOP support. Without it, there would be no anti-discrimination law in NY (passed by a GOP-controlled state senate and signed by GOP governor Pataki), nor would there be same-sex marriage in VT, NH, or NY. It also is likely that there would have been a constitutional amendment referendum in MA had not some GOP legislators joined our side. And next year, there will definitely be a battle in NH to repeal marriage. Thanks to an extraordinary GOP tsunami in 2010, the all Dem legislature is now an all-GOP legislature with a veto-proof majority in both houses. If there is any chance of keeping marriage, we will need about 10% of GOP House members to vote with us. Right now, the odds look moderately good that this will happen. But if you didn’t have a group like LCR out there making the case, it is likely that some or most of these victories would never have happened.

Theo
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

@Donny D:

That’s a pretty decent read on GOProud. BTW, I don’t think that most of them are self-hating, or at least that they don’t perceive themselves that way. But they do have a deficit when it comes to understanding how to conduct themselves in a manner denoting self-respect. I am all for challenging the group-think that intellectually impoverishes the gay movement. But through its clownish actions, GOProud seems to strengthen group-think by “proving” the canard that anyone who dissents from gay orthodoxy is a self-hating wretch.

You propose that their goals are “to bring together the small minority of gay people who strongly agree with most or all of what the Republican conservative propaganda machine puts out” and “to prove to straight Republican conservatives that gay people can be okay.”

My question would be, how does it serve either of these purposes to: sign a joint letter with, among others, Peter LaBarbera and Tony Perkins; hold a conference in San Diego at the one hotel that is subject to a Prop 8-related boycott; have the head of GOProud identify Jim DeMint, possibly the most anti-gay person in the Senate, as his favorite Senator; take on Ann Coulter as an honorary board member just days after she makes offensive comments about gay people, including expressing support for DADT, which is contrary to GOProud’s own position on the issue?

MattNYC
August 11th, 2011 | LINK

I seriously refuse to waste one more brain cell contemplating this group. I truly cannot think of a more apt term to describe them than “self-loathing.”

I find it hard to believe that David Benkof is not also on their advisory board.

Ryan
August 12th, 2011 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy.

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