Naturally, this has generated a lot of controversy, so I decided to interview Christopher Barron, the chairman of GOProud, talk about the whole controversy and some related issues.
What follows is the slightly edited transcript of our conversation.
Joseph Farah has been trying to draw attention to WorldNetDaily by publicly disinviting Ann Coulter from a WND convention she wasn’t booked for in the first place over her appearance at Homocon. Now Farah’s gone on gay radio shows to denounce Coulter for speaking to your group, which is kind of weird if you think about it. Honestly I consider Farah to be a clown and I don’t think he believes anything he’s saying. I think it’s a publicity thing for him. Still, he’s drawing a lot of attention to your event; so I think it’s fair to ask, do you have any comments on Joe Farah?
My only comment is I think at this point, it’s clear exactly what this has been about. Ann said from the get-go that the reason why Farah did this was publicity — and everything that Farah has done from the moment that he cancelled Ann from a speaking engagement which she wasn’t even booked for makes it clear that this is about nothing more than publicity. If he was really standing on principle, it would be one thing. I’d still disagree with it, but it would be one thing — but he’s not standing on principle, he’s pretending to stand on principle to promote his website. He’s learned what the liberals have learned, that if you attack Ann Coulter, you get attention. Surprise, surprise, it works for the Left and it works for Joseph Farah.
Now believe it or not, I have actually not caught a lot of flack for sponsoring Homocon. Very little, actually. But still, I’ve heard some complaints and there are two I’ve heard most often. So I wanted to pitch them out to you and let you just respond to the ones I’ve heard most often.
The first is that GOProud is a group that engages in identity politics and conservatives shouldn’t support groups that do that. What would you say to that?
The reality is that it’s not engaging in identity politics to make the case to groups as to why they ought to support conservative policies.
We make the case that everything that is on our legislative agenda, everything that we support, we say is good for the country and it’s good for gays and lesbians. We think that those policies that are good for America are good for gay people. So I don’t think that is traditional identity politics.
The flip side of that is that we can’t continue to lose group after group because we simply refuse to have a debate about this. We’ve lost African-American voters for decades because the belief is that we don’t care about African-American voters — and what’s outrageous is that we support the policies that are actually good for African-American voters. But we’ve let the Left drown it out because we won’t engage in quote unquote identity politics. I think that’s unfortunate. The same thing can be said of Jewish Americans and Latino Americans.
The truth is, is that we have the conservative policies that are good for all Americans, good for conservatives, good for Jewish people, good for African-Americans, good for gays and lesbians, and good for all people. We shouldn’t be afraid to say guess what? Our policies are good for you.
The second complaint I’ve heard is from some Christian conservatives who say that even if conservatives make it clear that they disagree with you on issues like gay marriage and gays in the military, that supporting your group in any way will end up promoting those policies and a gay lifestyle by default. What would you say to those people?
We have made it clear from the get-go that we think that social conservatives are an important part of the conservative movement. And, I don’t think by having social conservatives in the movement who may disagree with me on things like marriage or gays in the military, it’s somehow corrupting the movement from my perspective. So, I guess I don’t understand how it would be corrupting the movement from their perspective.
There’s a core of issues that I think all of us in the conservative movement can and should agree on and those are the issues that are at the forefront of our political discussion today. Debates about the size and scope of government, about tax policy, about whether or not we’re going to have socialized health care in this country. These are things that all of us can agree on. I mean, we’re not all going to agree all the time. And accepting our 80 percent friend rather than forcing him to be 20 percent enemy, I think makes smart politics for conservatives.
Now, since Homocon made the news, what has been the overall reaction on the right? Has it been good? Has it been bad? What would you call it overall?
The overall reaction has been spectacular, absolutely spectacular. Person after person has come out and said we think this is great. Right Wing News is a perfect example. You don’t agree with us on marriage and don’t ask don’t tell, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t see the value in this event.
You know Erick Erickson at Redstate, somebody else certainly would not be considered as being for repealing don’t ask don’t tell or for gay marriage, said that he thought that it was great that Ann was speaking at Homocon. You know Matt Lewis, too. I mean, you know, conservative leader after conservative leader gets it and understands that this is good for the movement and it’s good for all of us.
Now, along those lines, what would you say to liberal critics of Homocon who’ve been pretty scathing about the event, who are upset that Ann Coulter’s headlining, or that people like me are sponsoring, because we don’t agree with your group on issues like gay marriage and gays in the military. What would you say to them?
I’d tell them to get a life. Honestly, I would.
The fact is that we don’t take our marching orders from the Left and we’re certainly not going to be bullied by them. I’m not surprised that they’re outraged that you’re sponsoring it or outraged we’re having Ann speak. They’re outraged over everything. I mean these are the folks who wake up in the morning outraged. So, that’s what I would say: I would tell them to get a life.
Now, last question here. Do you find it odd that so many of these groups on the left basically say to gay Americans, “The only issues you’re supposed to care about at all are gay marriage and gays in the military and everything else is irrelevant?” Do you think that’s helpful for gay Americans?
No, it’s not helpful at all. The fact is that gay people, like any other Americans, sit down at their table at night and what are the things that they’re talking about? What are the things that they’re worried about? They’re worried about jobs. They’re worried about healthcare. They’re worried about taxes. They’re worried about retirement security. On all of these issues, the gay left has no answers.
The only thing they say is, “marriage or bust.” That’s it. You have to be for marriage. Well, you want to know what? What we say is, “Yes, marriage is great,” but there are lots of other things that gay people should be for that would improve the lives of all Americans, including gays and lesbians…… free market healthcare reform that would result in more domestic partner benefits becoming more available and giving individuals, not the government control over their healthcare. Social Security personal savings accounts would allow people to take a portion of their Social Security, invest it and own, and pass it on to whomever they want. If we replace the income tax with a fair tax, we would automatically have straight couples and gay couples on the exact same tax footing.
So on issue after issue, I try to make the case to gay people that, yes, marriage is important, but there’s a whole lot of other issues that are just as important, if not more important, to the every day lives of gay people.
Thank you. I really appreciate your time.