After Andrew Markle's story yesterday that the far-right conservative LGBT group GOProud was shutting down, the organization's leadership took to Facebook to deny the reporting saying, "Nothing could be further from the truth" and "GOProud is not closing. It is growing." Today, however, the group confirmed it plans to kill the GOProud brand and will attempt to reorganize as a grassroots online organization with a new name.
"I posted what I had to on Facebook so I wouldn't scare our members and thwart our fundraising efforts," Executive Director Matthew Bechstein told Bilerico Project in an exclusive interview. "I wanted to mitigate a disaster."
"We're leaving GOProud behind and re-branding the chapters."
While yesterday's Facebook posting originally denied the report saying it was "misinformation" and the work of someone "that will stop at nothing to discredit our organization and its leadership team," when presented with quotes he had made to Markle during a previous interview, Bechstein admitted that GOProud would soon cease to exist.
"There have been concerns among our members and investors about whether or not we can continue to grow and be effective without severing ourselves from past controversies," Bechstein said in a separately emailed statement.
Bechstein made it clear that they still wanted to get the buy-in from donors and members before moving forward with the plan. Not all mid-level volunteers had been notified of the group's decision before Markle's report was published. Panicked that the news had broken before all participants had been informed, Bechstein requested that the Bilerico article be removed from the site. When his request was refused, the group posted their denial on Facebook.
"The fact is, in order to continue promoting the conservative principles upon which this organization was founded, change is needed. One of the changes under discussion is a switch to a different legal type of organization - basic paperwork that requires dissolution and immediate subsequent reorganization. Technically, as some argue, this would be a legal closure," he emailed. "But if it were to actually happen, it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization."
While Bechstein claims that filing dissolution paperwork with the federal government would necessitate "immediate subsequent reorganization," this is not a requirement from the government. The group will simply be dissolved. Any new group formed would have to file independent paperwork as needed depending on how they reorganize.
An online-only grassroots group would not require any filings; otherwise every Facebook group would have to file tax papers with the federal government. If the new organization accepts donations, it will have to file its own legal documents for tax purposes.
"Let me be clear, no matter what happens, our grassroots infrastructure and our daily activism will continue throughout any possible transition," Bechstein said. "We do not plan to stop working. What has made this organization strong in the past is the support and devotion of our membership, I don't expect that to waver in the future."