With some high profile center-right bloggers outraged by the American Conservative Union’s decision not to continue gay Republican group GOProud’s sponsorship of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, it’s worth listing a few points about GOProud and CPAC the finger wavers should think about:
- GOProud’s position on marriage: “Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment. Marriage should be a question for the states. A federal constitutional amendment on marriage would be an unprecedented federal power grab from the states.” Deferring marriage policy to the states is a respectable (albeit mistaken, in my view) conservative position; referring to the marriage amendment as “anti-gay” is not.
- GOProud’s stated support for marriage federalism is highly misleading. The organization wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, falsely suggesting the law interferes with the right of the states to set marriage policy. DOMA is not a federal same-sex marriage ban, but merely a federal guarantee that individual states won’t be forced to recognize or adopt the marriage definitions of other states. What good is it for GOProud to say they support states’ rights on the issue if they want to leave the states defenseless against activist judges?
- GOProud doesn’t merely ignore social issues; they also actively demand that the rest of the conservative coalition abandons social issues too. In doing so they misrepresent how many Tea Partiers they speak for and denigrate the movement’s most conservative, loyal and long-standing members as “Washington insiders and special interest groups.”
- GOProud supported the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. But as those following the issue know, policymakers ignored the concerns of many servicemen and military officers in deciding what to do about DADT. Can any organization that doesn’t take seriously the military’s judgment in such matters truly call itself conservative?
- GOProud supports ending taxpayer funding for abortion, but punts on the main issue. It turns out GOProud president Chris Barron worked for Planned Parenthood as director of pro-choice outreach to Republicans. Barron says his time with PP was the “worst 2 months of my life,” yet it apparently wasn’t significant enough to change his position all that much: “he stopped supporting the Roe v Wade decision in early 2006, after this experience, ‘but beyond that don't have strong feelings on abortion - not really involved in the process.’”
- Barron has also smeared longtime conservative activists Tony Perkins (Family Research Council president) and Cleta Mitchell (ACU board member) as “bigots,” and ridiculed those boycotting CPAC over GOProud’s involvement, including Sen. Jim DeMint and Concerned Women for America, as living on “the Island of Political Misfit Toys.” Barron did apologize to Mitchell, but not to the others. Not only has Barron shown his capacity for demonization, but he lacks the common sense and the humility to recognize that a newcomer to the Right, especially one with all the baggage listed above, doesn’t quite have the standing to pass judgment on the political relevance of the movement’s veterans.
- Barron isn’t the only GOProud bigwig with behavioral problems. In response to the National Organization for Marriage’s perfectly reasonable press release stating, “We welcome everyone’s right to participate in the democratic process, but we have a message for GOProud on marriage: If you try to elect pro-gay-marriage Republicans, we will Dede Scozzafava them,” LaSalvia threw a temper tantrum: “I just have a question for them: Who’s the pansy at CPAC? What wusses. Just come over. Don’t play nice if you’re not going to be nice.”
- Some critics have asked why the ACU is throwing out GOProud, but not Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, both of whom are disturbingly cozy with radical Islamists. That’s an excellent question, and the ACU should be confronted on it. Y’know what else is an excellent question? Why the people bringing it up don’t notice that Norquist is also on GOProud's advisory board. Are we to believe Norquist impairs the ACU’s reliability on national security and foreign policy, but not GOProud’s?
Everyone makes mistakes now and then, and prudent allies should be able to forgive one or two transgressions for the sake of their shared priorities. But with no less than eight serious marks against GOProud, it’s entirely reasonable to doubt the organization’s intentions and conservative credibility. CPAC made the right decision.