Gay GOP group vows to defeat Obama, supports and seeks dialog with Michele Bachmann
July 20, 2011 | 2:31 pm
(Updated: July 20, 2011 | 6:51 pm)
GOProud, a group of LGBT Republicans founded by gay activists who thought the Log Cabin Republicans were not conservative enough, has reached out to Michele Bachmann to discuss her bid to become the GOP nominee against President Obama.
Bachmann has become an epicenter of attention from mainstream and queer media alike for her hard stance opposing LGBT rights and her association with extremist anti-gay groups.
That’s not to mention the conservative counseling center she and her husband own, which maintains that homosexuality can be cured.
GOProud co-founder Christopher R. Barron said on CNN that the group is committed to working with any candidate who could defeat President Obama in 2012, and considers debt and government spending to be far more important than issues like same-sex marriage. When pressed by CNN anchor Ali Velshi, he said the group may still endorse Bachmann if she becomes the Republican nominee because of her conservative record on other issues.
Watch the interview (partial transcript below):
Barron: Far too many on the gay left in this country want to demonize everyone who disagrees with us. The fact is we’re never going to see progress on the issues we care about unless we engage in a heartfelt dialogue.
Our number one goal between now and November of 2012 is defeating Barack Obama… it’s important for us to sit down and talk to any of the candidates who are running for president, which is what we’re doing.
Velshi: If she were the nominee, or if someone with a view like that were the nominee, would you still work with that candidate to defeat Barack Obama? Does the fact that you are a conservative group overrule the fact that you might have to deal with somebody who does not support gay marriage?
Barron: Well first off, our organization doesn’t take a position on marriage beyond to say that it ought to be left to the states. So therefore we oppose the type of Consitutional amendment that congressman Bachmann supports, but you know it’s too early at this point to talk about who we would endorse or if we would endorse –
Velshi: If you are gay and you beleive in gay rights and there are a bunch of candidates who absolutely say they don’t really support gay rights, it’s not too early for me to ask you if you would support them or not.
Barron: “Well first… well first off, first off I think well no–
Velshi: “No you wouldn’t support them is that what you’re saying?
Barron: No that’s not what I’m saying. What I would like to say is there are a whole range of issues that impact gay people that go beyond marriage. Where does a candidate stand on things like the Fair Tax, where do they stand on things like personal savings accounts in Social Security? Where do they stand on things like free-market healthcare reforms? All those things would improve the lives of average gay people.
Velshi: Right. But you’ve got ten points here, ten legislative priorities, many of which – most of which, actually – deal with fiscal issues, most of which are traditionally conservative views, and most of the candidates in the race support them. So why wouldn’t you just not deal with that? Why wouldn’t you pick someone who actually says I can be fiscally conservative and I have no problem with gay rights?
Barron: One, I think everything that’s included in our 10-point agenda affects gay people. And so when my partner and I sit down and we’re talking about the issues that impact us, we’re not talking about, you know, ‘hate crimes.’ What we’re talking about is taxes and healthcare and retirement security and those are the types of issues that are impacting average gay families all across this country.
Barron: So of course we want to meet with all the conservative candidates who are talking about those issues, and quite honestly on all the fiscal issues that impact gay people, Congresswoman Bachmann has a good record.
Barron: Obviously we’re troubled about some of the things that it has been purported that she said, which is why it’s important to sit down and talk with her. We want to sit down and talk with all the GOP presidential candidates. Our number one girl is defeating Barack Obama. At the end of the day, we’re going to work to defeat this president.”
It’s hard not to disagree with Barron on the fact that most LGBT people are not single-issue voters, and care about a variety of issues including healthcare and jobs. We’ve heard LGBT groups on the Left making nearly the exact same points – that access to medical care, retirement, or the economy, have a tremendous effect on gay couples’ lives that may even exceed hot-button issues like same-sex marriage.
But will Barron’s argument resonate with LGBT people?
Do “free-market healthcare reforms” make sense for a community that private insurers have cause to discriminate against due to the expense of HIV medications? Is privatizing retirement plans in the best interest of a group that has been discriminated against in workplaces? LGBT people often work for low wages in independent small businesses or are self-employed – can they retire without help from government if they don’t work in places that provide pension plans?
Are hate crimes really not important to LGBT people – especially youth and people of color who are more exposed – who may live in poor neighborhoods and are at higher risk of crime? Some LGBT youth are even homeless, which makes them extremely vulnerable to violence. And what about transgendered people and people living with HIV/AIDS, who are also at higher risk of attack?
Finally, is marriage – an issue that is deeply personal and emotional to many same-sex couples – really not so important, especially when marriage comes with financial benefits and families across the country are struggling?
What do you think?