CPAC Boycott by Social Cons Uncovers the Right’s ‘Gay Problem’
The gay conservative group GOProud deserves a place at the table. (And don't miss live CPAC coverage, streaming on PJTV.)
February 10, 2011 - 12:00 am
They support “limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and a confident foreign policy.” They believe that “every individual should be equal under the law.” They support policies “that promote the power of individuals, limit government’s reach, enable economic growth through free market principles, and strengthen America’s position in the world.”
I would guess that the overwhelming number of conservatives who read the above without knowing that these are the foundational beliefs of GOProud could be convinced to sign up. But since the conservative advocacy group, whose members happen to be gay, support gay marriage and repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay individuals, they are poison to many on the right. This animus has taken the form of a boycott by certain social conservative organizations at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conferernce (CPAC), and even motivated some conservatives to call for expunging gays – and their supporters in seeking equal treatment — from the conservative movement.
Why? Clearly there is a religious element to opposing homosexuality. Christians of strong faith who take the strictures against loving someone from the same sex written in the Bible at face value at least have a logical, if not rational, basis for their opposition.
Then there are the traditionalists who see gay marriage as a threat to the institution of marriage. Unfortunately, they are about 40 years too late.” Heterosexuals have done a fine job of destroying the institution of marriage long before gay unions became an issue. Divorce, cohabitation, lax sexual mores, and out of wedlock births have combined to radically alter the concept of marriage, changing it from “death do us part” to “until I get sick and tired of you.” The nuclear family has been largely replaced by “blended” families where children from two, three, and more marriages are raised in homes where the old rules simply don’t apply.
And there are military groups and serving officers who oppose lifting DADT because they fear it will affect combat readiness and cause a mass exodus of the rank and file. Good and loyal officers have made this argument, but no one can say if they are correct, or if they are blowing the issue out of proportion.
Faith, tradition, practical necessity — all of these may be good reasons to oppose gay marriage and repeal of DADT. But why oppose GOProud? Their principles are conservative principles. Their stands on issues are firmly planted in the mainstream of conservative thought. Heterosexual conservatives overwhelmingly agree with them — except for issues regarding equal treatment of gays and straights.
I have not been granted the ability to peer into another’s soul and see what is in their heart. But human nature being what it is, it is a safe bet that not all this opposition is based solely on principle, that some of it is almost certainly the result of hostility and fear directed toward those who are different, or who discomfit us by upsetting our traditional notions of normality.
It can be extremely unnerving to discover that the grounded, safe, familiar, secure cocoon in which we exist is being invaded by what appears to be radical ideas and radical people that throw our notions of what is “normal” out the window. We try to shelter our children by drawing them into the cocoon, just as our parents, and their parents before them tried to keep the outside world from intruding on our peaceful existence. It never works. Sooner or later, we discover that America has other plans. A nation that prides itself on being a revolutionary society where there is the chance for change every four years does not sit still for long. For better or worse, America is constantly in motion, and like a steamroller, flattens the past and readies the ground ahead for whatever transformation is to occur.
Beyond the front gate, there are all sorts of people we wish would just go away and not disturb us with their problems. Fifty years ago, it was African Americans being asked to be “patient” while society continued its glacial pace of progress toward granting dignity and freedom from oppression. Then it was women who were told to go back to the kitchen and shut up. The disabled were asked to keep a low profile so as not to upset our delicate sensibilities. The homeless became invisible. The mentally ill, exorcised from our consciousnesses.
And now, the turn of the gays. Do we learn nothing from history? Are we condemned to constantly retreat into our cocoons and fight like hell to try and maintain an outmoded, antiquated notion of what is “normal?” You would think that knowledge is liberating and that having discovered that homosexuality is not a disease, that genetics more than environment determines your sexual orientation, we might cautiously reach out and try and understand the unnecessary burden carried by the gay community in that they have to constantly fight for what you and I take for granted; the simple, decent, American ideal of equal rights under the law.
There is nothing “unconservative” about this, despite what some on the right are saying about GOProud and CPAC. This is especially true as it relates to the fundamental truth about gays that many opponents of gay marriage refuse to concede; that people in love — even if they are of the same sex — should not be denied the legal and social advantages gained by being married.
There is no delegitimizing love be it between a man and a woman or two members of the same sex. The same electro-chemical reactions in the brain that cause sparks to fly between a man and a woman also affect same sex couples. The same stages of love experienced by heterosexual couples are also felt by gay partners. Love is love in any context and only man in his ignorance defines the emotion felt by gay couples as “illegitimate.”
Why that has been accepted by conservatives as a reason to oppose the idea that two members of the same sex who love each other should be legally kept apart is beyond me. You can disapprove of gays and gay marriage out of religious conviction or personal prejudice but it is decidedly unconservative to force the rest of us to agree with you by preventing the union of people who love each other and wish to nurture that love in a legal marriage.
Government has no business deciding such personal, intimate questions. Allowing gay marriage will no more “encourage” it than allowing straight marriage gives a special imprimatur to those unions. The argument that allowing gays to marry will destroy “traditional marriage” — whatever that is — doesn’t hold water for the reasons I gave above as well as the simple notion that each of us has the ability to define our own relationships in ways best suited to our material and emotional happiness. What else can the “pursuit of happiness” mean?
There is a secular conservative case to be made for gay marriage and GOProud’s very existence is a powerful piece of evidence for the plaintiff. I am pleased to see that conservatives like Andrew Brietbart and Ann Coulter, as well as many others I would normally not see eye to eye on all issues, are trying to give legitimacy to GOProud. Their efforts almost certainly won’t sway most of those who will be attending CPAC and especially those boycotting this year’s conference. But it is a promising first step toward a realization by most conservatives that whatever differences we have with the gay community shouldn’t stand in the way of embracing those who share our principles and agree with us on most issues confronting the nation today.