My friend Andrew Breitbart threw a party for GOProud at the CPAC festivities last night. Another friend — Roger Simon — celebrates Andrew’s party as a “a game changer,” as Glenn Reynolds notes here. I want to restate my dissent from the excitement.
Looking around the GOProud site, the organization appears to integrate traditional conservative limited government goals with a homosexual rights agenda. Its legislative priorities include repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and opposition to “any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.” The group states that “[m]arriage should be a question for the states.” I can’t find the group’s position on gay marriage otherwise noted on the site, but I infer from the group’s formulation of the position on a federal marriage amendment that opposition to gay marriage is deemed “anti-gay” by definition.
The rationale of GOProud appears to be the advocacy of a homosexual rights agenda within an otherwise conservative framework. “What is GOProud?” The organization answers that “GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies.” I’m drawing the inference, but, again, the implication is that allies of gay conservatives are conservatives who support the agenda of homosexual rights.
I doubt that the big tent can be quite this big. The Republican Party was founded in the belief that it was “the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery,” as the party platform of 1856 put it. Utah would not be welcome in the Union until Mormons ditched their devotion to plural marriage.
GOProud takes us back to an issue whose arguments we have mostly forgotten. Charles Krauthammer connected homosexual marriage and polygamy by the logic supporting each. He notes that “it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one’s autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement — the number restriction (two and only two) — is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice.”
That doesn’t answer the question why homosexual marriage and polygamy should be opposed in the first place. Indeed, Krauthammer leaves himself open to the argument for homosexual marriage. As I say, this is a subject with respect to which we have mostly forgotten the arguments, which inevitably lead back to nature and nature’s God, as set forth in one of those mysterious documents whose age exceeds one hundred years.
There is a reason why the advocates of homosexual rights have found their home within modern liberalism. I’m not looking to pick any fights within the conservative movement, but I think the founders of the Republican Party had it right, both with respect to slavery and polygamy. By the same token, to the extent that a conservative group advocates the homosexual rights agenda, I think it is mistaken. It should be opposed even if we welcome the group’s support in resisting the rest of the liberal agenda.
JOHN adds: I’m not sure whether it was a game-changer, but it was a heck of a good party–clearly the hottest social event at CPAC so far. We had to wait in line to get in; the fact that people were willing to do so in yesterday’s freezing cold here in D.C. was impressive. In line, we bumped into our friends Roger Simon and Roger Kimball. It was one time when Roger Simon’s trademark hat came in handy.
You could tell the party was at a trendy venue because it didn’t have a sign. If not for the line, we would have missed it. It was the sort of party we hadn’t been at for a long time. This video gives a sense of what it was like:
I chatted with Andrew Breitbart for a while. He was excited about the party’s success and also, I think it is fair to say, dismayed by attacks leveled against him for putting it on. Andrew is a huge asset to the conservative cause, undoubtedly the number one impresario on our side. There once was a Southern Senator who, when asked his position on an issue, would say, “Some of my friends are for it and some are agin’ it, and I’m for my friends.” That formula doesn’t seem as silly to me now as it did when I was younger. This is one of those issues where I am for my friends.
My own view, which I think is a little different from Scott’s–a rare occurrence!–is that there are some issues that are deal-breakers from the standpoint of the conservative coalition, and others that are not. If someone says he is for increased federal spending and debt, I’m sorry–he may be conservative on a variety of other issues, but he isn’t someone we can count on our team. Likewise if he wants to dismantle the military and is clueless about national security threats. (This is part of the reason why I do not consider Ron Paul and his supporters to be legitimate members of the conservative coalition.) But for me, gay marriage is not a deal-breaker. Those who are with us on fiscal and security issues are, in my view, our allies; we can continue to debate the gay marriage issue but it should not impede our making common cause on the matters that, for me, define modern conservatism. Moreover, the enormous talents of the gay community can be a real asset to the movement. So I say, welcome to the fight.