Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out and Out

Contrary to the stereotype of conservatives all being a collection of cranky white people reeking of patriarchy and privilege, they do come in all shapes and strains. There are African-American conservatives, Hispanic conservatives, conservative women who consider themselves to be feminists, and even young hipsters who listen to the latest hip-hop and are cool with the idea of tax cuts for the rich. But there’s apparently one place where they draw the line: you can’t be gay and be conservative.

Two of the nation’s premier moral issues organizations, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in February because a homosexual activist group, GOProud, has been invited.

“We’ve been very involved in CPAC for over a decade and have managed a couple of popular sessions. However, we will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization’s financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles,” said Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRCAction.

As Steve Benen notes, perhaps they’re afraid of gay cooties and that’s why they’re acting like a middle-school clique. But what I find more interesting is why there is such a thing as a group of gay people who are conservative in the first place.

Not all conservatives are anti-gay, of course; many of them supported the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and there are a number of them, Theodore Olson most notably, who support the idea of marriage equality. But they are in the minority, and, ironically, it is those who are the most ardent followers of a philosophy that preaches “love thy neighbor” and “let all come unto me” who are the most vitriolic in their hatred.

Of course, people have a right to follow whatever political conviction they believe in regardless of their sexual orientation. But given the history of gay rights in this country and that it is the conservatives who have done everything they possibly can to demonize, criminalize, and even propose that people should be designated as unworthy of citizenship because of their sexual orientation, it boggles the mind that anyone who is openly gay would align themselves with the conservative movement. Lower taxes doesn’t really mean a whole lot when your taxes go to pay for things you can’t participate in such as filing joint returns or, as is the case in Florida, supporting the adoption of children by gays or lesbians. “Smaller government and more freedom” rings hollow when you’re talking about banning gay teachers from the classroom or taking your movement to Uganda where just being gay would become a crime punishable by death.

It says something about the odd priorities of those who would put their political beliefs ahead of their own rights as full participants in citizenship. To turn the Groucho Marx quote on its head, why would anyone want to belong to a group that doesn’t want to have you as a member?