Alex Blaze

GOProud vs. AFTAH: The straight right responds to the gay right

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 16, 2009 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, conservatism, CPAC, Focus on the Family, GOProud, iraq, left, liberal, Matt Barber, NOM, peter labarbera, republican, right, sponsorship, taxes, war

GOProud, the wingnutty cousin to the Goldwater conservatives at Log Cabin, announced last week that they'd be co-sponsoring the CPAC (big, annual conservative conference famous for homophobia). A few people pointed out that they'd be cosponsoring with folks like NOM and Focus on the Family, and apparently those other groups don't want to be involved in an event with GOProud. Culture War Clowns Peter Labarbera and Matt Barber, of the small-beans conservative group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), had a hearty discussion on the subject:

Now CPAC's tenuous "Big Tent" could collapse altogether as social conservatives led by Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber threaten to launch a boycott of the conference (scheduled for Feb. 18-20, 2010) unless CPAC drops a homosexual activist group, GOProud, as a co-sponsor. Barber, my good friend, an AFTAH Board Member, and the Director of Cultural Affairs at Liberty Counsel, is leading the charge to keep the CPAC sponsorship list ... conservative.

GOProud describes itself as "the only national organization for gay conservatives and their allies," but we at AFTAH dispute their definition of "conservative," which would have the movement's Founding Fathers, like Russell Kirk (see quotation at bottom), rolling over in their graves.

The question is, ultimately, how much of the ideological differences between the left and right have to do with the culture war. GOProud is fairly ideologically pure when it comes to being conservative - they advocate pretty much the same vision for America that Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter would (no social safety net, no equality, more power to police and military, more guns but less butter).

The question becomes less about what conservatism is about, and more who conservatives are. And, as you'd imagine, that's a big topic to take on.

Other than a few gay issues like DADT and same-sex marriage, GOProud's politics are standard-issue rightwing ideology.

The issues where they do disagree have less to do with their ideology and more to do with their identity - that is, if they were to magically become straight, it's doubtful they'd hold the same positions on DADT and same-sex unions. It's a hole in their ideological battle, so they created a specific group to address the fact that they're just as short-sighted, authoritarian, sexist, and racist as other Republicans, but that they can't really be as homophobic because they're gay.

That's where it gets interesting. This group doesn't question why authoritarianism and sexism are generally found side-by-side with homophobia. That'd be an ideological question that would end up moving some of the group's members to the left. But to people who buy into the same ideology but who are straight (like Labarbera), the connection is obviously:

It boils down to this: there is nothing "conservative" about -- as Barber inimitably puts it -- "one man violently cramming his penis into another man's lower intestine and calling it 'love.'" Or two women awkwardly mimicking natural procreative relations or raising a child together in an intentionally fatherless home. This does not mean that people practicing those and other immoral (and changeable) behaviors cannot think and act conservatively on other issues like lowering taxes, cutting government spending, ending abortion, etc. But let's be honest: the "proud" in GOProud is not about pride in opposing the death tax, or defending the right to bear arms; it's about proudly embracing sinful homosexual behavior - and that is hardly a conservative value.

I challenge every thinking conservative to explain why we should jettison our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage (which clearly rejects homosexual acts as immoral) for some new, secularized brand of "conservatism" that fails to conserve natural, normal, and noble sex within God-ordained marriage. Where does the expansion of "conservatism" stop? Would CPAC welcome "Republicans for Abortion" as a co-sponsor? How about "Conservatives For Higher Taxes"? We doubt it. So let's stop the double-standard on one issue -- homosexuality -- that happens to be politically incorrect in this decadent age.

It's all the same matzo ball for most people. GOProud opposes women's reproductive freedom, like other ideological rightwingers, but doesn't oppose same-sex relationships. Labarbera, here, points out that both positions come from the same root idea: forcing people to all have families that look the same, with a patriarchal father and a mother who sticks to child-rearing, and shaming them when they don't.

Prayer in schools and DADT might seem unrelated, and a group like GOProud can advocate for one while opposing the other. There's really nothing that forces a gay person to realize that governing according to the Bible is a bad idea that will never help us. For Labarbera the connection is obvious between those issues; for GOProud, a semi-identity/semi-ideological advocacy group, the line gets blurred.

At some point, being on the rightwing does have to have some meaning, and the big tent really can't accommodate everyone. Republicans generally do a better job promoting ideological purity within their party (especially on taxes), and that's why if they ever got the majorities that the Democrats have now in Congress, along with the White House, they'd use them. Democrats are a lot looser when it comes to these sorts of questions.

Fundamentally, I believe that being on the left, liberal, a Democrat, whatever you want to call it, has become too much mush in the US. We aren't clear on what we want and what we stand for, and part of the problem is that we've built a coalition that alined for reasons related more to identity than ideology. That is, if you're on the Blue Team in the Culture War because of your sexuality, gender, geographic location, race, lifestyle, etc., then you're more likely to call yourself a member of the left or a liberal even if you don't really know much or care much about actual leftist or liberal ideology.

Same goes for the Red Team, although they're more ideologically coherent because they use litmus tests, like this one, to keep the flock in line.

These are interesting questions to me as it becomes more and more clear to me that the coalition built under the Obama campaign had little to do with issues and more to do with what Obama represented culturally. I'm not just referring to the fact that he was a Democrat or the first African American president, but also to the fact that he spoke to the emotional truth of the Blue Team in America's Culture War. These folks believed, contrary to all evidence, that his ideology represented their own because his identity, perceived through his diplomas, his race, his style of speaking, his intellectualism, and some of his actual statements, aligned with their own.

While he may have made it pretty clear that he would continue White House policy when it came to sucking Wall Street's cock and continuing the two useless wars we're fighting, many people didn't believe it because he looked and acted like a true blue liberal. I don't really get how those people who opposed the war in Afghanistan could be surprised that Obama wants to escalate that conflict, considering that he explicitly stated that he would, but those folks are living in the same world where identity is more important than ideology as the folks who opposed the wars when Bush was running them but now support them because Obama is (I don't know how many creepy defenses of "our man in the White House" I've read these past few week from Democrats, but it's been disheartening to see how much pro-peace sentiment from the Bush years was expressed not because people are anti-war but because they were anti-Bush).

We'll see how this one pans out, who will get to go to the CPAC and if the boycott will pick up enough steam or if conservatives will look the other way on GOProud's stances on gay issues. They want in on the ideological extreme right of the GOP, but their identity prevents them from being accepted as such. But, ultimately, what happens will be determined by power, and Matt Barber and Peter Labarbera, for all their bluster, are small players in the GOP.


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Fine move by the Right; we could not have orchestrated it better had we possessed the actual power and Machiavellian intent to make it happen.

Gay Conservatives sponsor THE major annual gaybashing event and they get dropped as sponsors because of pressure from the gaybashers whose stage they were sponsoring.

Only GOProud could make the HRC seem radical and rational simultaneously

I know. We'll see what happens, since I don't think all that many conservatives would actually boycott the CPAC. Most really just care about the tax stuff, everything else is debatable.

I echo Alex's comment

I don't really get how those people who opposed the war in Afghanistan could be surprised that Obama wants to escalate that conflict

in fact, I would extend it to his theme in this post: right-wing gay people.

There was such a kerfuffle a few months ago on the Xtra.ca website when Egale Canada announced that Jamie Watt would receive its first Leadership Award--after years of being a Conservative Party insider, particularly an advisor of the Mike Harris government in Ontario in the 90's.

And yes, he provided Egale Canada with meeting space in Toronto when it abandoned Ottawa and it bylaws, among other things.

But isn't this just the natural endpoint of assimilationism, the argument that gay and lesbian people are not different from straight people except for what they do in bed and who they do it with, which would also support repealing DADT, but not, possibly, the passage of an inclusive ENDA.

And it is those who hold this perspective who, since Stonewall at least, have excluded transgender and transsexual people from the very movement they helped create.

It is also this perspective that allows the very views Jillian has described in her recent series of posts. These views are permitted by the structural issues Tobi has recently identified.

I'm uncertain though, Alex, even if we share the same political views--which your characterization of right wing views seems to support--or the same political enemies that we then share the same political goals.

I suppose it is interesting to watch infighting on the other side--possibly comic relief from our own. But then, it is a commonplace among many gay people that this is all transgender and transsexual people do; and something gay people do not do, apparently.

Marriage and DADT are very easy for gay and lesbian people to support, because, regardless of subtle environmental nuances they may create, top of mind understanding of these issues is GL; and it simply doesn't matter how often one exercises LGBT.

Until GL people can support the mirror issues to marriage and DADT that, on their face without subtle argument, can support apparently exclusively transgender and transsexual issues with the same enthusiasm, and can reach across the divide as fervently as many on this side do, well, you figure it out.

I don't really get what you're saying. There are plenty of assimilationist gays and lesbians who support ENDA, mainly because they don't know why and it seems pro-gay. Some support it because they think it's fair legislation and people are generally OK with anti-discrimination legislation in the US. Some think it will make us a "real minority."

And some oppose it, like gay conservatives, because they're generally against anti-discrimination legislation, but, well, to each their own. So long as ENDA passes.

Marriage and DADT are probably homocon favorites because they're about formal discrimination of gays and lesbians. That is, they say we're not allowed to do something, and that's it. There's no complicated argument, the law itself is obviously homophobic. The fact that the institutions they're fighting to be included in - the legally sanctioned family and the military - happen to be conservative is just icing.

I don't know if we share the same goals either, but I'll keep on writing here every day and you can tell me when we disagree. It is more fun to watch someone else's infighting than to participate in it, but I hope that I ended up writing something more than "Haha, look at those losers!" just now.

Here, Alex, I think you might be mis-analyzing the gay Republicans (although your guess is as good as mine):

Same-sex marriage: Gay conservatives support gay marriage because they hate taxes; they hate the thought that up to 50% of their estate's worth will go to the government when they die, instead of 100% of it going tax-free to their life-partner as it would to a heterosexual spouse. This, and SS survivor benefits and similar government entitlements, are the reason gay conservatives want marriage --- ITS ABOUT THE MONEY, STUPID!

DADT: Gay conservatives are pro-gun, pro-military, and pro-American-imperialism (but mostly they are pro for American economic imperialism, not necessarily geo-political imperialism --- even though the former does eventually lead to the latter). Believing that good fences make good neighbors, being able to blow your neighbor off the face of the earth makes even better neighbors. Moreover, many gay conservatives grew up in military families, and a good number of them stayed in the closet so that they could serve in the military (and in my mind, anyone who does this deserves our admiration). Finally, being aligned with big business, they agree that having the largest and strongest and baddest military in the world is a good thing to have in a world growing lower and lower on oil. So, bottom line, it's about national security, which in turn is about personal security and being able to keep what you have accumulated ... so that again, ultimately, IT'S ABOUT THE MONEY, STUPID!

At least there is a bit of logic to their madness, while in the case of the FoF and NOM types, conservativism is just a matter of regurgitating the same old Christian theocratic dogma.

But, I repeat --- your guess is as good as mine.

And P.S.: I agree with your final sentiment --- while the gay and straight conservatives bicker among themselves, let's just set up a few deck chairs, sell a few tickets, grab a tub of popcorn and a huge over-sized soft drink, and then sit down and enjoy the show!

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 16, 2009 4:26 PM

I can't get past your use of the term "wingnut cousin", and trying to figure out whether or not (per several other current threads) it's an ad hominem attack.

After all, wingnuts are people, too!

Hmm.... We'll see how many people find it to be an ad hominem attack and go from there.

And we'll see about the nuts, if they like being associated with right wingers. Cashew nuts? Pistachios? Walnuts? Almonds? Are they OK being associated with Republicans?

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 16, 2009 5:33 PM

Pahleaasse! A CPWA (Cashew-Pistachio-Walnut-Almond)movement on the right is doomed to instant failure. The CP's (at least the rich white ones) have never been comfortable with either the W's or the A's, certainly not when they've occupied the left of center half of the nutbowl. When asked Ronald Gold his opinion, he told that (1) the idea that there is such a thing as a nutty personality, (2) no self-respecting walnut would ever be comfortable in a pistacio's body, er shell, and (3) to just fuck off and leave him alone.

Oh, and then (4) not to try and make silly non-relevant comments to your serious threads.

Mea culpa.

Don, you elitist pig! You forgot the Macadamias! And the Hickory's! Macadamias and Hickory's are nuts, too!

Just think: had you not been such a non-inclusive snob, your nut coalition could have used the acronym CHAWMP.

Do Hickory nuts actually exist? (There's a bisexual joke in there somewhere, but I'll stop now. The poor bisexuals always end up the butt of the joke.)

But everyone loves hickory smoked bar-B-Q even if they don't admit it.... where there's smoke ....

There you go again, cracking a joke and bisexuals are the butt of it. It is very not-PC of you, Bil, butt-crack it anyway.

If GOProud is alowed in through the back door at CPAC powwow, they should go in with one issue loud and clear, a position of Barry Goldwater, whom you mention. In fact, Goldwater became an outspoken supporter of gay rights after he left office. Perhaps this was influenced by the fact that he has a gay Out grandson. He famously advocated loudly in favor of gays serving openly in the military. If GOProud is allowed to mingle with CPAC, this ought to be their issue.
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/user/scotts/bulgarians/barry-goldwater.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/may98/goldwater072894.htm

John McCain, Goldwater's successor, quickly distanced himself from the position of supporting gays in the military.

"Wingnutty" isn't any more of an ad hominem than "looney left."

It is CPAC that fails to uphold conservative principles. The conservative prime directive is the primacy and free-agency of the individual. Government to the extent that it is legitimate does not thwart the individual. DOMA and DADT restrict the rights of individuals.

Were I a true conservative I would oppose ENDA. The state is acting beyond the scope of its legitimate powers in telling employers who they can and cannot hire or the conditions of their employment. Organizations like HRC would rightfully employ market pressures to convince businesses to treat its constituents fairly.

I don't believe that market forces are an effective means to the ends that I desire, so I'm not a true conservative. Market forces aren't an effective means to the ends that social conservatives desire so they resort to government power. They're not very good conservatives either. Both groups seek a means to an end. Wingnutty or looney are a matter of perspective.

GOProud is even more delusional the the Log Cabin if they think they are going to be able to force their way onto the stage with the virulently homophobic right. Hell, even Cheney's self loathing daughter didn't make it on stage during the GOP conventions nominating her dad's puppet.

I can't help but feel that it is like a person who lets his or her partner/spouse abuse him or her. I've seen people like that they keep being hurt and keep going back into the situation.
I wonder how much of that type of dynamic is going on here.
But I am all for joining you guys in the deck chairs and watching the floor show on this political cruise.

If there really was such a thing as "the gay community," GOProud and Log Cabin members would be just as much a part of it as any liberal progressive. Which identity is more important to you: gay or liberal?