For those that don’t know, GOProud is a relatively new gay conservative group that broke off from the Log Cabin Republicans. Lately, they’ve been in the news because Liberty University withdrew their co-sponsorship at CPAC over GOProud’s co-sponsorship of the event.
Late last week, I interviewed GOProud’s Chairman of the Board, Christopher Barron. What follows is a slightly edited transcript of our conversation. Enjoy!
First question: GOProud started as a breakaway group from the Log Cabin Republicans, correct?
Now, why did you feel a need to leave that group?
Well, honestly, the folks who were associated with founding GOProud no longer felt that the Log Cabin Republicans fairly represented gay conservatives and straight conservatives that cared about gay people. We just felt that they no longer represented the conservative values that we held.
Do you think the group has gone too far to the left?
Absolutely. Unquestionably. If you take a look at their legislative agenda and then you take a look at our legislative agenda — our legislative agenda looks like something that you would find on the website of any conservative organization in this country. Their website looks like a legislative agenda you’d find on gay left-wing organizations in this country.
What do you say to people who say, “Most conservatives oppose gays in the military and gay marriage and they’re unlikely to change?”
Well, what I would say is, first off, when you look at our legislative agenda and the issues that we’re working on, we think the question of “gay rights” has been narrowly defined by the left. We think that if you want to improve the lives of every day gay and lesbian folks all across this country, you can do things like reform our tax code and provide for personal savings accounts in social security, free market health care reform, the type of stuff that’s going to improve the lives of every American in this country.
We certainly do understand that there are going to be conservatives who disagree with us on issues like same-sex marriage. We understand that and respect that. But, the fact is that movement conservatives aren’t going to agree on everything. I like to live by the Reagan line about “Your 80% friend is your friend, not your 20% enemy.”
Now, let me ask you about CPAC. Some of the liberal blogs have made a big deal of the fact that you don’t have a speaking slot at CPAC. Was that something that you requested?
Well, first off, when this was reported, decisions hadn’t even been fully made about who was going to speak at CPAC. Those conversations are still going on. The agenda hasn’t been finalized for CPAC yet.
You know, GOProud has all the same, you know, benefits and rights as any other co-sponsor participating….
Right, because I know all the co-sponsors don’t have speaking slots there.
No, they don’t. If there is a panel that fits well with something that we’re working on, we’d love to participate in it. But, we’re not co-sponsoring CPAC because we’re hoping to pay for an opportunity to speak. That’s not what CPAC sponsorship is about.
Right; it doesn’t work that way.
No, this is about supporting, you know, CPAC. We believe strongly that CPAC is an important event. It’s the preeminent event for conservatives across the country. We want to be there and show our support. That’s what our co-sponsorship is about.
Most of our folks are at CPAC every year. I’ve spoken at CPAC before. Like I said, if the opportunity presents itself and there is a panel that seems like a good fit for us, then sure, that’d be great.
What did you speak on at CPAC before?
I spoke on Social Security reform and I also spoke about whether or not a constitutional amendment was needed on marriage.
Now, let me ask you: Liberty University has pulled out because of GOProud’s co-sponsorship. What’s your reaction to that?
Well, it’s kind of funny because they’ve been at events with us before. They actually had a booth across from our booth at the College Republican Convention.
I do think it’s unfortunate, because GOProud is a mainstream conservative organization. We work with conservatives all across the country and in D.C. all the time. However, that’s the decision they’ve made and if it’s a decision they’re comfortable with, then good for them. Personally, I think CPAC is too important of an event for any conservative organization to say that they’re not going to participate.
Now from what I’ve seen in the blogosphere, conservative bloggers have been almost universally supportive of GOProud, not Liberty University. What do you think the general reaction has been to the whole controversy?
Well, that’s one of the most under-reported stories. The liberal media wants you to believe that conservatives hate gay people. So, the only thing you ever hear about this in the mainstream media or on a left wing blog is about the controversy itself and about Liberty University pulling out. What hasn’t been covered has been the tremendous outpouring of support that we’ve gotten from conservative organizations and from conservatives in the blogosphere.
I mean, it has been really spectacular because these people know. They’ve been to our website. They see our legislative agenda. They see the work that we are doing. We work with folks like Tom Coburn. We worked with John Thune on a concealed carry amendment. We work with conservative members. We’re a conservative organization. I was really moved and not really surprised, but happy, about the support that we’ve gotten from fellow conservatives.
Well, we’re about to finish up. Anything else you’d like to say or promote before we finish?
Well, I would add that I’m so focused on this Scott Brown special election right now because what it has proven is that conservatives as a movement can come together and make a difference, even in a place as liberal and as Democratic as Massachusetts. Conservatives coming together are making a difference and we’re going to win in Massachusetts because of conservatives all across the country. I hope we continue to do this. I hope we continue to be smart, be active and help stop the Obama Administration and the Left’s agenda on the Hill.
Chris, outstanding. Thank you for your time.