From the Independent Gay Forum

by David Link on January 8, 2011

Jon’s post on the CPAC Crack-Up glosses over the most important part of this story: GOProud. In fact, Jon doesn’t even mention them by name, referring only to “a gay Republican group.”

Credit where credit is due. In the more than three decades of its existence the Log Cabin Republicans never provoked this level of anguish and inflammation in its party – or, more accurately, this level of public anguish and inflammation. Log Cabin has been a private thorn in the party’s side since 1977, but up until now, the party has been able to brush them aside in its public pronouncements.

But it’s also true that Log Cabin has been something of a team player. In contrast, GOProud is the Republican ACT UP.

And I mean that in a literal sense. GOProud is unleashing power. Republicans have spent a lot of political energy in the last decade trying to finesse and manage their religious problem, while benefiting from it electorally. The religious wing of the party expects all people who call themselves “conservatives” to share their abhorrence of and intolerance for open and honest homosexuality. The party has given them lip service; pledges and resistance to progress, and even a couple of outspoken backbenchers who show all the signs of being true believers.

They also gave them Texas.

But no political party can live with intolerance indefinitely; compromise always creeps in, and the world outside the party can’t be denied for long. Lesbians and gay men aren’t going away, and it’s hard to maintain the closet as an institution if they keep refusing to cooperate. Today, there are simply too many examples of decent, moral, public and powerful homosexuals to sustain the notion that “they” are evil or harmful or much of anything other than fellow citizens, friends, coworkers, neighbors and family members.

Republican leaders have suppressed their party’s best instincts about this for too long, and GOProud is, as ACT-UP did before it, unleashing the power that’s been there all along. GOProud can be as juvenile and theatrical as their predecessors, but they are also, like ACT-UP, a deeply serious group – as this reaction to their existence shows.

Maybe the timing is better for them than it ever was for Log Cabin. Or maybe Log Cabin’s political strategy wasn’t what was needed to blow up the party’s entrenched hypocrisy. But either way, GOProud is now forcing their party to have a public conversation about a fundamental question that has been kept at the margins: What would Republican conservatism look like if it weren’t anti-gay?

That won’t be resolved at CPAC. But it’s a question whose resolution will affect a lot of people, gay and straight, Republican and Democratic.