The gay conservative group GoProud showed courage and commitment in co-sponsoring the recent Conservative Political Action Convention in Washington. Although many in the LGBT community might differ with the group on a number of public policy issues, we can all applaud them for daring to be out and proud in the very lion’s den of right-wing activism.
While GoProud leaders said they were well-received by libertarian Republicans, far-right Christians at the event were openly hostile. GoProud was subjected to harshly anti-gay rhetoric from the podium, and its members were sometimes marginalized behind the scenes. A representative from the National Organization for Marriage shook GoProud members’ hands in front of CNN cameras, but fired off a scathing press release about their presence behind their backs.
Some evangelical groups went so far as to boycott CPAC over GoProud’s presence.
It would be easy to dismiss the members of GoProud as unrealistic wannabes, vainly seeking acceptance in a club that doesn’t want them. But the LGBT community benefits from their willingness to take the message of gay inclusion where it most needs to be heard. Like the black civil rights pioneers who sat at whites-only lunch counters in the Jim Crow South, GoProud is helping to expose the ugliness of bigotry to the world at large.
Gay Republicans are often scoffed at for supporting a party that is, on the whole, homophobic. But their work is vital. As the healthcare reform debacle has shown, neither party can accomplish change on big issues alone. We need Republican support to succeed.
The truth is that few Democrats at the national level are pushing our civil rights agenda forward either. In fact, Democratic leaders often welcome our campaign contributions at election time, then proceed to forget about us shortly afterward.
If gay conservatives can succeed in pushing Republicans forward on our issues, it will move the entire debate toward the center. Civil rights should not be about right versus left, but about right versus wrong