The ‘big tent’ Republican Party envisioned by Colin Powell and the late Jack Kemp may have a few less entrances, as witnessed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. last month.
The annual grip-and-grab of conservative glitterati may have been missing notables like Sarah Palin—who is now sniping with the group—but it did include a contingent from a new organization called GOProud.
Founded by former members of the Log Cabin Republican Federation, GOProud leaders say they hope to marry conservative values with gay pride.
In an irony of placement, GOProud’s booth was only a few stalls from that of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which opposes gay marriages or civil unions, institutions supported by GOProud’s founders.
“It’s the ultimate Washington power grab to say let’s have a federal constitutional amendment that will federalize the question of marriage,” said the group’s chairman, Christopher Barron, the former political director for the Log Cabin Republicans national organization, in a reference to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Reaction among attendees of the conservative pow-wow was mixed.
Although he introduced himself to Barron and shook his hand in front of reporters, NOM spokesman Chris Plante told CNN that “gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”
Some were blunter in their intolerance. Liberty University Law School refused to attend the event when it was announced that GOProud was co-sponsoring the conference. But as noted by SFGN correspondent Sebastian Fortino in the companion column, the attendees were respectful of individual liberty and homosexual issues. When one speaker sought to condemn the GOProud group, he was booed off stage.
Andy Eddy, a South Florida Log Cabin Republican, says he wasn’t however, surprised by the actions of Liberty University, an institution founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. Featured in last week’s SFGN, some of Liberty University’s professors recommended ‘the exorcism of homosexual demons’ at a recent conference.
“Their hard-line fundamentalist agenda basically relishes in the Constitutional guarantee of ‘Freedom of Religion’ but forgets that hinged to that is the right to ‘Freedom from Religious Persecution’,” said Eddy.
“They are disabling the concept of ‘Separation of Church and State’ politically and seemingly aren’t aware of it,” he added.
As for GOProud’s efforts to reach out to mainstream conservatives, Eddy says that he’s “personally pleased they jumped into it with both feet.”
“My hope is that they came out conservatively-gay friendly and not tinged by what some African Biblical Fundamentalists preach on the execution of gays and bisexuals, and the punishment of those who attempt to shelter them,” he said.