Will Gay Issue Split the GOP?
Well, yes, it's already happening and the rift will likely continue to get larger. One of the reasons for this is the bizarre fact that there are indeed gay conservatives and they're getting antsy. The group GOProud has been causing some waves, most recently their attendance at the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is causing some queer-fearing conservatives to go running in the other direction.
So far the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage have decided not to attend in protest for the inclusion of gay conservatives.
Tanya Somanader writes for Think Progress:
The far-right Americans for Truth about Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera, who is also boycotting CPAC, finds it "gratifying to to see FRC and CWA respond appropriately to CPAC's moral sellout of allowing GOProud as a sponsor." "By bringing in GOProud, CPAC was effectively saying moral opposition to homosexuality is no longer welcome in the conservative movement."
This increasingly popular censure of CPAC is not just limited to GOProud itself, but to lawmakers as well. As Right Wing Watch notes, CPAC isn't just "one of the largest gatherings of right wing activists," but a long-standing, popular "platform for Republican presidential candidates." Indeed, possible 2012 GOP presidential candidates Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN), Rep. Mike Pence (IN), and Sen. John Thune (SD) are slated to speak at CPAC next year. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Thune have already come under fire for their association with GOProud.
So, will conservatives eat their (gay) own in order remain firmly implanted in the dark ages? Will this push GOP hopefuls further toward gay rights or away from it?
As Andrew Belonsky writes for Change.org:
It illustrates the slow, but sure, integration between Republican gays and their party peers, as well as the waning influence of "traditional values" groups like FRC, who, once upon a time, could have forced CPAC's hand. Now they're finding themselves impotent in the face of evolving attitudes.
GOProud's participation in CPAC isn't monumental, nor will it change the Republican party's cultural direction, but at least it's a development, one that represents a small success for gay people of all political leanings.