ACLU Hires GOProud Director to Propel Same-Sex Marriage Outreach 'Particularly' to Tea Party

The American Civil Liberties Union has hired the outgoing executive director of Republican gay-rights group GOProud to lead an effort to bring GOPs on the side of same-sex marriage.

Jimmy LaSalvia, the founder of GOProud, will work with the ACLU to do outreach to gay conservatives, "particularly within the Tea Party," the ACLU said.

LaSalvia will be joining another ACLU hire in the $10 million nationwide campaign, Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) senior presidential campaign adviser Steve Schmidt.

Schmidt was formerly the communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, campaign manager for the 2006 re-election of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush.

"Schmidt's role will be to help spearhead the campaign to strike down state-based laws prohibiting same-sex marriage," the ACLU said just after today's Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and Prop. 8. "The campaign will, over the next four years, challenge legislative and constitutional provisions in states such as Illinois, Oregon, Hawaii, Montana, and others. The ACLU aims to spend roughly $10 million through 2016 and will officially announce the initiative with an ad in tomorrow's edition of The Wall Street Journal."

"The Republican party stands for freedom, for limited government intrusion in our personal lives and for freedom," said Schmidt. "The issue of marriage equality is the Republican Party’s best chance to stand on the right side of history, create a meaningful legacy of fairness, and maintain relevance with young voters."

Schmidt was part of the amicus brief against Prop. 8 submitted by 75 Republicans in February.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said "for a full civil liberties victory, we need broad-based support from coast to coast."

"That's why the ACLU is joining with Republican leaders to fight to end state-based limits on the freedom to marry," Romero said.

LaSalvia wrote on his blog today that "as a constitutional conservative, I am pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed that marriage and family law is the purview of the states."

"Now, the effort to pass marriage equality focuses on the states. Conservatives know that marriage is a good thing, and we should encourage, protect, and promote it for everyone – including gay people," LaSalvia continued. "I am looking forward to making that case, state by state, to build consensus through the political process to legalize civil marriage for gay couples."

GOProud began searching for LaSalvia's replacement last month. He had served in that role for the past four years.