Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for June, 2014

GOProud Goes Out Of Business… Or Something

Jim Burroway

June 5th, 2014

Bilerico Project learned the news on Sunday:

GOProud has been mired by several controversies since the departure of their founders. The group has bled donors since the widely reported departure of Jimmy LaSalvia from the Republican Party earlier this year. His departure was so loud, but it focused primarily on his shift of ideology and thus projected a new image onto the organization that he helped found.

Finding it difficult to continue without securing more funding, GOProud will be shutting down immediately – an homage to an era gone by. The shuttering is undoubtedly necessary as the organization’s full effectiveness has been tarnished.

The organization may rebrand and regroup later, but for now, the organization will no longer be functioning. Co-director Matthew Bechstein stated in an interview that the “brand is broken” and a rebrand is necessary.

Except that it’s not:

To deflect a story alleging that the organization planned to shut its doors as part of a rebranding effort following years of financial woes and stagnancy, the organization took to social media to claim that “nothing could be further from the truth” and insist that “GOProud is not closing. It is growing.”

Except that it is, sort of:

“I posted what I had to on Facebook so I wouldn’t scare our members and thwart our fundraising efforts,” Executive Director Matthew Bechstein told Bilerico Project in an exclusive interview. “I wanted to mitigate a disaster.”

“We’re leaving GOProud behind and re-branding the chapters.”

While yesterday’s Facebook posting originally denied the report saying it was “misinformation” and the work of someone “that will stop at nothing to discredit our organization and its leadership team,” when presented with quotes he had made to Markle during a previous interview, Bechstein admitted that GOProud would soon cease to exist.

“There have been concerns among our members and investors about whether or not we can continue to grow and be effective without severing ourselves from past controversies,” Bechstein said in a separately emailed statement.

Unless it doesn’t:

“The fact is, in order to continue promoting the conservative principles upon which this organization was founded, change is needed. One of the changes under discussion is a switch to a different legal type of organization – basic paperwork that requires dissolution and immediate subsequent reorganization. Technically, as some argue, this would be a legal closure,” he emailed. “But if it were to actually happen, it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization.”

…Let me be clear, no matter what happens, our grassroots infrastructure and our daily activism will continue throughout any possible transition,” Bechstein said. “We do not plan to stop working. What has made this organization strong in the past is the support and devotion of our membership, I don’t expect that to waver in the future.”

GOPround Co-Founder Resigns, Blasts Group for “Unconditional Surrender to the Forces of Intolerance”

Jim Burroway

February 20th, 2014

GOProud co-founders Jimmy LaSalvia (L) and Chris Barron

Yesterday, National Journal excitedly reported that “the kinder, gentler Conservative Political Action Conference” has decided to “welcome” GOProud back to the fold after being kicked out in 2011. National Journal however was very clear about the limits of that so-called welcome:

Two former GOProud summer interns, Ross Hemminger and Matt Bechstein, took over last summer and sought to repair the bitterly frayed relationship. Under a compromise reached last week, they will attend the March 6-8 gathering as guests, without sponsorship or a booth. GOProud sees the lower-profile role as an important first step.

In other words, they’re welcome as long as they sit quitely and don’t say anything. COProud co-founder Chris Barron resigned from the board following the announcement, calling the move an “unconditional surrender”:

“Last night I resigned from the Board of GOProud, the organization that I co-founded back in April of 2009. I cannot in good conscience sit by and watch as the current leadership of the organization disingenuously pawns off an unconditional surrender to the forces of bigotry as some sort of ‘compromise,’” Barron told BuzzFeed. “Nothing has changed in regards to GOProud and CPAC, GOProud does not have a booth, they are not a sponsor, they are not participating in any formal sense – individual members can attend and that’s exactly the terms ACU dictated the previous few years.”

…”There was a time when GOProud was on the front lines of the fight for a more inclusive conservative movement –- we won some of those battles and we lost some of those battles, but we were always honest about the outcome. If the current leadership of GOProud, or whats left of it, believes that unconditional surrender to the forces of intolerance is in the best interest of the organization, than they should just be honest about it,” he said

Earlier this year, another GOProud co-founder, Jimmy LaSalvia, announced that he was leaving the Republican Party altogether, citing “the tolerance of bigotry in the GOP.” He resigned as GOProud’s Executive Directer last year to work for the ACLU.

Unfashionably Late: GOProud Endorses Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

January 18th, 2013

But they only endorse it “where civil marriage is possible“:

The move follows a decision by the GOProud board earlier this month to expand the group’s mission to include state-level work. It also comes after, LaSalvia noted, the re-election of a president who supports same-sex couples’ marriage rights, while some in the Republican Party are urging their party to reassess their position on the issue.

Since its founding in 2009, GOProud has always opposed the federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law a “federal power grab,” but it avoided the underlying issue of marriage rights. In the course of a 285-word statement provided to BuzzFeed on “marriage and relationship recognition” being released publicly Friday, though, the group declares, “Where civil marriage is possible, we support civil marriage.”

At the same time, the group is pushing strongly for a state-level, political efforts — not judicial decisions — and LaSalvia warned that “a sweeping decision” in the Supreme Court case challenging California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex couples’ marriages “will create a backlash” — including the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment being “brought to the forefront again.”

That last statement tells me that GOProud is gearing up to fight the last decade’s battles. The FMA’s high water mark was in 2004 and 2006, and both times it failed to pass either the House or the Senate by the required two-thirds vote. Both Houses have changed quite a bit since then. Someone needs to show GOProud a new calendar.

Totally Didn’t See This Coming

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2013

From Chris Barron’s Twitter feed:

And from Jimmy LaSalvia’s feed:

GOProud may have found its purpose

Timothy Kincaid

August 29th, 2012

I’m not a big fan of GOProud, an organization of one or two gay Republicans and their friends.

They only exist because they broke off from Log Cabin over LCR’s goal of trying to make the party more inclusive for gay people. They thought the goals should be limited to getting any Republican elected, no matter how anti-gay, and ranting about “the Gay Left”. (And by “Gay Left” they mean pretty much anyone who isn’t a GOProud member.)

In other words, they exist solely as an organization that opposes those gay people – in all parties – who are working for my rights.

But it seems that they did throw a decent party last night and had something like 500 GOP delegates show up. And while that isn’t astonishing and marvelous, I guess it’s something.

And this might do some incremental good. After all, for many people, the first time they ever consider gay people as real and deserving of consideration is in a social setting. Hey, it’s possible.

So maybe that’s what GOProud should do: throw parties.

Maybe they could just shut-up and serve cocktails. Because all buddying up with those who deride us (like Ann Coulter) and the sniping at gay activists fighting for my rights is really getting old.

Did Grenell Jump or Was He Pushed?

This post has been updated with more information from the New York Times and Talking Points Memo

Jim Burroway

May 3rd, 2012

Or did he just simply let go?

On April 19 when Gov. Mitt Romney named Richard Grenell, a longtime GOP communications strategist as his national security and foreign policy spokesman, conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan hailed the announcement as “a real outreach to gay Republicans” while Karen Ocamb said is marks “the day Romney pivots to appeal to mainstream voters for the general election.”

But if that was a pivot, it ended Tuesday when Grenell resigned from the campaign. His very brief announcement hinted at why he left such a high-profile post in a national presidential campaign: “My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.”

What “hyper-partisan” discussions was he referring to? At first, some speculated that it may have been related to the initial criticisms from pundits and bloggers over provocative Twitter posts that he made about Rachel Maddow’s appearance, Newt Gingrich’s wife Calista’s appearance, Hillary Clinton’s appearance, Michele Obama’s accent, and other snarky tweets. But it quickly seemed unlikely that those criticisms led to Grenell’s sudden departure. Most of them came from left-of-center and beyond, which Republicans tend to wear as a badge of honor (as many Democrats do with criticism from the right). And besides, by April 22 when Grenell deleted some 800 tweets and took his personal web site offline, those criticisms were already loosing traction. The world quickly moved on to the next outrage.

Well, most of the world anyway. One key component of the restive GOP base didn’t. SPLC-certified hate-artist Bryan Fischer of American Family Association called Grenell’s appointment “a deliberate poke in the eye” to Christian conservatives, and mounted a campaign for Grenell’s removal with a six-point list of demands for Gov. Romney. Family “Research” Council warned that Grenell’s support for same-sex marriage would have him lobbying “for foreign policy more in line with the current administration than the last Republican one.” National Review’s Matthew Franck wrote that Grenell supported marriage equality “with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment.” He even suggested that Grenell’s gayness would cause him to turn traitor to the Republican cause and switch teams if Obama were to come out for same-sex marriage.

Those criticisms apparently spooked and paralyzed the Romney campaign. Andrew Sullivan did some “actual reporting from yours truly” and got to the bottom of Grenell’s resignation:

It seems clear from sources close to Grenell and reporters on the foreign policy beat that his turning point came last week. He’d been part of organizing a conference call to respond to Vice President Biden’s foreign policy speech, now known best for the “big stick” remark. So some reporters were puzzled as to why Grenell, a week into his job as Romney’s national security spokesman, was not introduced by name as part of the Romney team at the beginning of the call, and his voice completely absent from the conversation. Some even called and questioned him afterwards as to why he was absent. He wasn’t absent. He was simply muzzled. For a job where you are supposed to maintain good relations with reporters, being silenced on a key conference call on your area of expertise is pretty damaging. Especially when you helped set it up.

Sources close to Grenell say that he was specifically told by those high up in the Romney campaign to stay silent on the call, even while he was on it. And this was not the only time he had been instructed to shut up. Their response to the far right fooferaw was simply to go silent, to keep Grenell off-stage and mute, and to wait till the storm passed. But the storm was not likely to pass if no one in the Romney camp was prepared to back Grenell up. Hence his dilemma. The obvious solution was simply to get Grenell out there doling out the neocon red meat — which would have immediately changed the subject and helped dispel base skepticism. Instead the terrified Romneyites shut him up without any actual plan for when he might subsequently be able to do his job. To my mind, it’s a mark of his integrity that he decided to quit rather than be put in this absurd situation. And it’s a mark of Romney’s fundamental weakness within his own party that he could not back his spokesman against the Bryan Fischers and Matthew Francks.

This confirms what the Washington Post learned shortly after Grenell’s resignation, when Jennifer Rubin wrote: “The ongoing pressure from social conservatives over his appointment and the reluctance of the Romney campaign to send Grenell out as a spokesman while controversy swirled left Grenell essentially with no job.” She later reported that many members of the campaign privately reached out to Grenell over the weekend to try to persuade him from resigning, but they were unsuccessful. She then reiterated the root of the problem: “Despite the controversy in new media and in conservative circles, there was no public statement of support for Grenell by the campaign and no supportive social conservatives were enlisted to calm the waters.”

[Update: The New York Times this morning has more. During that foreign policy conference call:

It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.

“Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”

For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive.

After interviewing more than a dozen aids and advisers, The Times describes the episode as "halting attempts by the campaign to manage its relationship with the most conservative quarter of the Republican Party."

"It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay,” one Republican adviser said. “They believed this was a nonissue. But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”]

This leaves many wondering if there is any room for gay Republicans in visible positions. GOPRoud’s Jimmy LaSilva said, “This was an opportunity to send an important message that Mitt Romney wants everybody to get behind him and to support his campaign. They let that opportunity pass.” [Update: Go Proud's Christopher Barron added, "It doesn’t bode well for the Romney campaign going forward if they couldn’t stand up to the most outrageous attacks about him being gay.” Fred Karger, who ran against Romney as an openly gay candidate told TPM,

"It’s going to be difficult for Romney to take other steps like this. And that’s what’s really frightening to me. It’s just too tough to stand up to these groups because they have a lot of money and power. You’ve got to be able to do that, that’s leadership.”]

Sullivan was more direct:

So if all gay Republicans who support marriage equality are banned even from speaking on other topics entirely (like Iran or Afghanistan, where Grenell is a fire-breather), who’s left? The answer, I’m afraid, is no one. Grenell was prepared to stay silent on gay issues entirely and do his job. But that wasn’t enough. Romney’s anti-gay agenda is therefore deeper and more extreme than Bush’s.

Meanwhile, AFA’s Bryan Fischer is declaring Grenell’s resignation a huge win. With continued silence from the Romney camp, this leaves likes of Fischer to operate as the de-facto gatekeepers of acceptable members of the Romney campaign — and perhaps even of a Romney administration.

Not a gay organization

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2012

Corporate America is currently the gay communty’s biggest supporter. Time and again companies have stepped up and supported equality even when under threat from a “million” moms or “families” who are enraged at the idea. This wasn’t always true, but nowadays the bigger the Big Business, the more they seem to want to sponsor events or contribute to campaigns or even lobby legislators on our behalf.

And while some in our community are not going to ever change their perspective about the role of business in society, most of us will happily accept their support. If Microsoft wants to work for marriage equality in Washington, that’s a good thing. If Apple and Levi’s give to fight Prop 8, we’ll use our iPhone to buy some jeans. If Macy’s tweeks the nose of the “marriage protectors”, we’ll chuckle while registering in their marriage register. And if a handful of Republican Wall Street types put enough money and pressure on the Republican controlled NY Senate that they pass a marriage bill, even dedicated liberal Democrats will swallow hard and smile while throwing rice.

Most of us.

But there are those who claim to be gay groups that put gay issues secondary to their radical political agenda. GOProud is a good example. They’ve never met an extremist homophobic Republican or an outrageous Republican position that they couldn’t endorse. Often with logic that would make a pretzel dizzy. And nothing is more important to GOProud than hatin’ on The Left; hate is their primary purpose and driving motivation.

And there’s also this:

As constituents and LGBTQ supporters, we demand that HRC stand with us, to stand against the exploitation of the less fortunate, and stand for those suffering at the hands of corporate criminals. We urge HRC to make decisions that support their mission statement of “equality and fairness for all.” WE DEMAND THAT HRC rescind their Workplace for Equality Innovation Award and revoke Mr. Balnkfein’s title as “national spokesperson for same-sex marriage.”

Lloyd Blankfein’s crime, that which disqualifies him from working for marriage equality in the minds of GetEqual, is being CEO of Goldman Sachs. Because, when it comes right down to it, GetEqual has a lot in common with GOProud. In choosing between advancing equality or hatin’ on the Wall Street fat cats, there’s no question.

And if advancing gay rights is but a secondary purpose – as is the case with GOPride and GetEqual – then you aren’t a gay organization.

UPDATE: I was insufficiently clear above. The group protesting HRC is GetEqual. I only included GOProud generally, as a balance, not because the object to Balnkfein. As far as I know, GOProud has never organized their political allies to picket any gay organization.

GOProud becomes even less gay

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2011

GOProud is a rightwing political organization masquerading as a gay group. Yes, there are gay members – at least three – but their goals, intentions, and actions reveal them to be interested in gay issues only in the context of how they can be spun for partisan advantage.

Indeed, the irony of their existence can be seen in their self description: “GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies.” Implicit in that definition is the understanding that by “conservatives”, GOProud means social conservatives generally and advocates of anti-gay policies specifically. While they claim to be “committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy” their alliances and admiration are restricted to those who oppose individual liberty and they have disdain for any whose beliefs in limited government cause them to see DOMA as a violation of freedom that strikes at the core of the US Constitution and who is dedicated to seeing it stricken down.

GOProud is an organization that sees itself primarily in terms of what it is not. And number one to its member is their identity as NOT being part of what they call “the Gay Left”, a moniker they apply to anyone regardless of their place on the political spectrum who believes that gay people are equal and that such a notion is worth fighting for. To GOProud, I am the Gay Left, the writers at the Independent Gay Forum are the Gay Left, all Europeans regardless of ideology (or sexuality) are the Gay Left, and if you read Box Turtle Bulletin, you too are the Gay Left. In fact, it would seem that the only gay people who are not the Gay Left would be the handful (I count three) of gay people involved with the loud but irrelevant group itself.

GOProud is also NOT the Log Cabin Republicans. In fact, GOProud is so much NOT Log Cabin that they split from Log Cabin over that organization’s priorities. You see, Log Cabin didn’t see much value to, say, lobbying Congress in favor of second amendment rights, though most members do hold those rights as valuable. Rather, they put their emphasis in explaining, clarifying, lobbying and seeking to influence those who they agree with on gun rights on issues about which they are better acquainted, i.e. gay rights.

So these fellows left to start GOProud, organization that is comprised mostly of gay men but which doesn’t want to talk about gay issues but instead wants to lobby on other issues like gun rights but doesn’t want to join a gun rights group choosing instead to be a gay group but not gay first but Republican first but not like that other gay group with is really pro-gay but instead we are the ones who don’t want to get along Democrats at all ever and if they support something we promise to criticize it and be really good and never ever criticize a conservative Republican no matter what he says or does and we promise to call any pro-gay Republicans “squishy” or RINO or anything else you want so please please love us please.

In case you haven’t caught on, I don’t have much respect for the group. As of today I have even less.

GOProud has imploded. It had to happen eventually. When an organization is created solely so it’s members can behave like 13 year old boys, it’s inevitable that they will. And this week leaders Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron proved that true.

Rick Perry killed any vestige of hope of being President by running an amazingly homophobic ad. But the most interesting part of that story was about how Perry’s advisors were not of one mind on the ad. Specifically, Anthony Fabrizio went public with his opposition – something I can’t recall from an active part of a candidate’s team.

GOProud’s response was to out Fabrizio.

Now a part of me would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe DiSalvia and Barron were not trying to punish Fabrizio for rocking the boat. Maybe.

In response to a virulently homophobic ad by presidential candidate Rick Perry, Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron outed Perry campaign consultant Anthony Fabrizio as being gay, saying it was “the height of hypocrisy for Tony Fabrizio to have been a part of that.” Follow up by the Washington Post found that Fabrizio was not “a part of that” and that the ad was created over his objections. To which LaSalvia and Barron responded that “he should have quit”.

In consequence, conservative prankster Andrew Brietbart quit as an advisor to GOProud. He, like myself, opposes outing (though I suspect for different reasons). And then the Board issued a statement opposing outing.

And finally, Chris Barron stepped down from his role as Chairman of the board. In his place, the board has appointed Lisa de Pasquale, a far right social conservative activist, to head the organization.

I don’t know de Pasquale’s orientation. The only references google gave for “Lisa de Pasquale” and “lesbian” were nasty comments she’d written which clearly suggest that she sees lesbians as inherently objectionable.

If de Pasquale is lesbian, she is of the closeted variety. The nasty vicious hateful closeted variety.

Which makes GOProud accomplish something I would have thought unlikely a week ago: become even less relevant.

Sure gay groups have straight members. Some are in leadership. And that is part of inclusiveness.

But when you choose a not-openly-gay person to head the board because you don’t actually have any other gay people, you don’t get to call yourself a gay group anymore.

At this point I think perhaps we should treat GOProud like PFOX: an irrelevant group claiming to represent people who don’t know or care that they exist.

Jimmy and Chris, your little stunt was fun while it lasted, but it’s time you just went home and did something productive with your lives.

[Revised to correct the timeline on the outing of Tony Fabrizio]

American Soldier Booed At GOP Debate

Jim Burroway

September 23rd, 2011

Frankly, I never thought I’d see the day.

YouTube Preview Image

Megyn Kelly: Senator Santorum, this question stirred up a whole lot of controversy online and comes from Stephen Hill, who is a soldier serving in Iraq.

Stephen Hill: In 2010 when I was deployed to Iraq, I had to lie about who I was because I’m a gay soldier and I didn’t want to lose my job. My question is, under one of your presidencies do you intend to circumvent progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military? [Scattered booing]

Sen. Rick Santorum. Yeah, I would say any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege in removing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”  I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military’s job is to do one thing and that is to defend our country. [Applause] We need to give the military, which is all volunteer, the ability to do so in a way [cheering and applause] that is most efficient and protective of our men and women in uniform and I believe this undermines that ability. [more cheers and applause]

Kelly: So what would you do with soldiers like Stephen Hill? I mean now he’s out. You know, you saw his face on camera. When he first submitted his video to us, it was without his face on camera. Now he’s out. So what would you do as president?

Santorum: I think, it’s… it’s… Look, what we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. I would just say that going forward we would reinstitute that policy if Rick Santorum was President. Period. That policy would be reinstituted, and as far as people who are in it, I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration. But we would move forward in conformity to what was happening in the past which was sex is not an issue. It should not be an issue. [applause] Leave it alone. Keep it to yourself [applause and cheers] whether you are a heterosexual or a homosexual.

GOP candidates and their spinners in the spin room afterwards were scrambling to characterize the booing as “unfortunate.” But none of the candidates found it necessary to denounce it on stage.

UPDATE: GOProud was perhaps the first out of the gate to demand an apology:

Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.

“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life.  It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.

“Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports.  How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?”

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.

GOProud’s Tammy Bruce maligns West Hollywood

Timothy Kincaid

November 17th, 2010

GOProud is an organization of conservative gay people driven entirely by identity politics. They see themselves first as “not the Left”, secondarily as “conservatives”, third as partisan Republicans, and finally in a far distant place as gay. Unlike Log Cabin Republicans, the gay group who measures each issue against it’s matrix of beliefs, GOProud is reactionary, selecting their positions and candidates based primarily on what they think will most annoy liberal gay people and organizations.

So it is not at all surprising that GOProud has weighed in on a controversial but fairly non-consequential issue: Willow Palin’s homophobic slurs.

This all started on Monday when Willow got into a facebook squabble with another teen. She was “defending her mother” against this kid’s criticism that Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the new Palin reality show that premiered on Monday, was “failing”. Willow responded with the “you’re gay” putdown, followed by a homophobic slur:

Willow is a kid who did not ask to be Sarah Palin’s daughter and who has not pushed herself into the spotlight. Further, as best I can tell this was not an attack intended to reflect on anyone’s sexual orientation but rather typical of the careless and hurtful language that has saturated the youth culture. So I’m not quick to accuse her of homophobia or question her character.

But it is fair to note that this reflects on the Palin parenting style as well as the values of Todd and Sarah Palin. This is a classless exchange. And while my parents were conservative and certainly anti-gay, I would never have dared use this language.

So, to me, it is relevant that no one has, to date, apologized for the language used, or even suggested that it was inappropriate. Not a huge issue to me, but not outside of the realm of acceptable criticism.

But GOProud has leaped to the defense of Sarah Palin, one of their idols. If “the Left” is going to criticize the use of a hurtful slur, then they will defend it. (TMZ)

GOProud.org just told TMZ, “The ‘slur’ used here is one you could hear on the streets of West Hollywood or Chelsea every day of the week. Apparently, it’s only a homophobic slur when it comes from the daughter of a conservative female leader.”

I can’t speak for Chelsea, but you WILL NOT hear that slur “on the streets of West Hollywood” any day of the week.

I don’t know what kind of language that GOProud’s Tammy Bruce (a local boring talk-show host) uses in private, or what her social circle has to say about gay men when they can’t be heard. And her “Boys in the Band” mentality may be shared by whatever self-loathing people she finds to confirm and bolster her need to be “not like them.”

But that slur reflects a complete lack of self-respect and a capitulation to a mindset that sees oneself and one’s community as worthless and deserving of contempt. It is entirely socially unacceptable in public or in any gay circles of which I am a part. And this is particularly true on the streets of West Hollywood.

The last time I hear that word used on Santa Monica Boulevard, a diminutive young lady tackled the guy saying it and began pounding her fists into his face. We don’t like that term so much, you see. And we have reason.

In 1984 when little WeHo became a city, the first night that it’s City Council met, it passed a non-discrimination ordinance. The council then marched down to Barney’s Beanery, a restaurant and bar within the new city limits, and confiscated their “Fagots – Stay Out” sign. That slur (and yes, it’s a slur even if Bruce puts in scare quotes) has not been welcome in West Hollywood since.

Just as I would never refer to Ms. Bruce with a term that denigrated her sex and orientation – in public or in private – she had best not bring her foul bigotry to the streets of my community. She best not dare.

Which Side Are You On?

Jim Burroway

August 18th, 2010

Last week, I noted that Peter LaBarbera’s coming unglued over Ann Coulter’s scheduled appearance at GOProud might almost – almost — make me want to cheer for Coulter. Now LaBarbera’s going off on Glenn Beck for saying that same-sex marriage is not a threat to the country. LaBarbera counters that gay marriage will “destroy freedom.” Of course, the only freedom he’s really interested in is the freedom to force us to cower in the closet. That cause was lost 41 years ago.

Meanwhile, World Net Daily is also melting down over Coulter and GOProud. Coulter has been axed from WND’s “Taking America Back National Conference” to be held in Miami next month. Joseph Farah, WND’s editor, spoke to Coulter and said that she told him the only reason she’s speaking at GOProud is because she’s getting paid. Remember, this is coming from Farah so take it with a grain of salt, but he quotes Coulter as saying:

“I speak to a lot of groups and do not endorse them. I speak at Harvard and I certainly don’t endorse their views. I’ve spoken to Democratic groups and liberal Republican groups that loooove abortion. The main thing I do is speak on college campuses, which is about the equivalent of speaking at an al-Qaida conference. I’m sure I agree with GOProud more than I do with at least half of my college audiences. But in any event, giving a speech is not an endorsement of every position held by the people I’m speaking to. I was going to speak for you guys, I think you’re nuts on the birther thing (though I like you otherwise!)”

As I said last week, LaBarbera’s outrage over Coulter speaking at GOProud makes me almost want to cheer Coulter and GOProud, two entities that I have very little respect for otherwise. Same with Beck. So by the same token I have trouble knowing who to cheer for here as well. The whole “enemy of my enemy” thing can only carry you so far. Barely as far as it takes for me to write three paragraphs about it first thing in the morning and wonder if I’ve already spent too much time on this already.

The LaBarbera-Coulter Tiff

Jim Burroway

August 11th, 2010

Peter LaBarbera is upset that Ann Coulter is slated to speak before GOProud in September. LaBarbera asks, “Would Ann Coulter speak at an event for “Republicans For Responsible Porn Use’…?” He also demands that Coulter reconsider “in the name of conservatism.”

You know, I have little respect for GOProud, and virtually none for Coulter. But if Coulter can send LaBarbera into a spin, then GOProud’s little stunt is already worth it. I’ve cheered for GOProud once, with reservations. But only LaBarbera could ever make me cheer for Coulter.

GOProud desperately seeks attention, reveals insecurities

Timothy Kincaid

August 6th, 2010

Have you ever seen straight women out for a night at the gay bar? There’s always one who goes and tips a go-go boy and they all shriek at how Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous! she is. Invariably she goes for the repeat performance, and then again, in hopes of winning back the spotlight.

I pity such women. Their desire for attention at any cost suggests that they really don’t much think that they are worthy of respect or attention for their own merits.

I can’t say that I’ve never done anything for attention. There have been times – probably more than I would care to acknowledge – when I’ve played the fool for the spotlight. But I’m not so much a fool that I am not aware of (or ashamed of) such motivation. And I’ve never gone to the extent of harming my community.

Sadly, GOProud has no such hesitation. Ever since the little collection of egos which go by the name GOProud broke away from Log Cabin (because LCR was a gay-rights group, not a hate-the-Librulls group) they’ve been waving their dollar bills in the air shrieking “look at me, look at me.”

And for half of a moment, people glanced at the peculiarity of gay people working against their own best interests. But then the world said, “meh”, gave a collective shrug, and went back to watching Snookie on Jersey Shore. Even bad reality television is more interesting than a group whose sole accomplishment is being more conservative than Log Cabin.

But having got a taste of attention, they are desperate for more. And so in their desire to one-up their Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous! behavior, they have been trying harder and harder to come up with anything they think will annoy people enough to make us pay attention. Oddly, most of it is not only anti-gay but anti-decent-Republican.

In June they ran an attack on pro-gay Republican Tom Campbell, choosing instead to endorse Carly Fiorina who opposes gay equality. They said that Campbell was too much like Dede Scozzafava who, because she supports marriage equality, is “far outside the Republican main stream.”

Then they decided to hold a reception at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, which was being subjected to a boycott organized by Republican gay activist Fred Karger. The hotel’s owner, Doug Manchester, funded the signature collection for Proposition 8. (GOProud failed to mention the attendance, so I’m assuming it was worse than the most poorly attended NOM rally.)

But that didn’t get the attention they first drew. Frankly, beyond a few mentions on blog sites, their shock value is fading. No one is much surprised nor impressed by attention seekers doing things solely for the attention.

So now they are trying to ratchet up the volume; they have decided to join forces with raging homophobe Ann Coulter. And if anyone knows how to get attention for doing nothing at all but being Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous!, it’s Coulter. GOProud has decided to hold something they are calling Homocon 2010 which will feature Ms. Coulter and her rants about Librulls.

Yawn.

As Ann’s supporters don’t much like Teh Gey and as most gay folk are not much fond of being called “faggot,” I think they could probably hold their event in a booth at Denny’s. And other than the cursory “there they go again,” I’m not expecting that their desperate plea for attention will garner much.

But in the process they said the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard from GOProud. It’s the little slogan they have adopted:

“Our gays are more macho than their straights.”

Now I don’t have any particular concerns about my macho factor. I don’t insist that I’m “straight acting” or try to butch it up. Frankly, while I’m not Paul Lynde, it just doesn’t cross my mind whether I’m “more macho” than anyone else.

But I have met some gay men for whom this was a great concern. They felt, somehow, that masculinity was a symbol of superiority and that if they could “pass for straight” then they were better than the flamer. They were real men, you see. Worthy of being treated with respect, unlike that queen over there.

I don’t have much respect for such folk, but I do have pity; such thinking is almost invariably based in a deeply internalized sense of worthlessness and insecurity. They so fear that they are lesser that they have to find someone even “worse” so they could push away the fear and the doubts and feel almost okay about themselves.

Perhaps that isn’t what motivates Jimmy LaSilva and his tiny band of fellow attention seekers. Perhaps he really is secure in his sexuality and his own sense of self.

But… let me just say that it wouldn’t surprise me all that much if his next move was into an ex-gay ministry.

GOProud to Break Manchester Boycott

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2010

The conservative gay Republican group GOProud has announced that they will hold a fundraiser at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Deigo. This development comes despite an active boycott by local LGBT advocates over a $125,000 donation by owner Doug Manchester to California’s Proposition 8 campaign which stripped LGBT people of their right to marry.

According to a donations page set up by GOProud:

GOProud’s “Don’t Tread on Us” reception will feature Fox News Channel political analyst and national radio talk show personality Tammy Bruce as the program’s MC. The event will benefit GOProud, the nation’s only political organization for gay conservatives and their allies. (Program speakers will be announced as they are confirmed.)

GOProud defends their choice:

We understand that Mr. Manchester has apologized for his support of Prop 8 and has made a substantial monetary commitment to the LGBT community,” GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia told The Advocate. “We believe strongly that the gay community should be in the business of winning new friends not making enemies.”

In fact, Manchester hasn’t apoligized for his support for Prop 8, although he did try to buy off local LGBT groups with a $125,000 donations and hotel vouchers in exchange for an end to the boycott. But without the apology, local groups declined the offer.

It looks like GOProud’s “don’t tread on us” warning doesn’t extend to Manchester himself. He can tread on us all he wants. GOProud won’t mind.

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