While the announcement that conservative pundit Ann Coulter agreed to headline a party for gay conservatives may have ruffled some feathers on both sides of the debate over gay rights, the overall reaction has been surprisingly positive, a spokesman for the group hosting the event told The Daily Caller.
GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia said that despite a few “predictable” voices of criticism from “the extreme right,” and the “far left,” the event has received a number of sponsorships from conservative groups, including one from Right Wing News, a conservative website. GOProud will announce more sponsors next week.
“We have been very pleased with outpouring of support we’ve received from conservative groups around the country,” LaSalvia said.
Some social conservative groups reacted to the news by condemning Coulter for agreeing to work with the group, calling on her to cancel her appearance.
“As a fan of Ann Coulter, it pains me to see her cave into political correctness and lend credibility to the phony homosexual ‘conservatives’ over at GOProud,” said Peter LaBarbera, founder of Americans United for Truth, a group that is an outspoken opponent to issues like gay marriage
GOProud, a national organization that represents gay conservatives, will host the gathering in New York City on September 25 featuring Coulter, and the move has opened the door for discussion over whether there is room in the conservative movement for members of the gay community.
A series of recent events and polls suggest that conservatives may be becoming more inclusive of gays into their movement. In February, the American Conservative Union gave sponsorship status to GOProud for the Conservative Political Action Conference, the group’s annual gathering of conservative activists. Last week, Fox News Host Glenn Beck voiced support for gay marriage and a national CNN poll found that 52 percent of responders agreed with the statement that “gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid.” Other recent polls also indicate that support for laws that ban gay marriage is dwindling among younger voters.
“There is a growing amount of conservatives across the country who actually view LGBT rights and equality as a constitutional must,” said Evan McMahon, Indiana chapter leader and social media director for Marriage Equality USA, a grassroots non-profit group that advocates for gay marriage. “More and more, conservatives are stepping up and saying, ‘we have to change our view on this.'”
A spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group that condemned Ann Coulter after she called then-presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” in 2007, said they welcome her and any conservatives who are striving for increased inclusion of the gay community.
“If she can help other conservatives turn the corner on equality for gays and lesbian Americans … then more power to her,” said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. About Coulter’s comments three years ago: “People are allowed to evolve. If Ann Coulter is going to be another conservative voice among a growing chorus of conservative voices advocating for equality, that is welcome.”
Both groups said that while they are encouraged that Coulter has agreed to speak, they are still awaiting whether Coulter will express her support for issues like gay marriage at the GOProud event. When asked about the content in Coulter’s talk, LaSalvia merely replied, “Our folks are going to be very pleased with what she has to say.”
Spokesmen from the the Human Rights Campaign and The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) declined to comment on Coulter’s upcoming speech.
UPDATE: GOProud Board Chairman Christopher R. Barron issued this statement Wednesday morning: “We did not invite Ann Coulter to speak at Homocon 2010 because we believe she has ‘evolved.’ Quite the contrary, we invited Ann Coulter because of who she is, who she has been, and who we know she will continue to be – the smartest, funniest, most provocative conservative author and columnist around.
“If anyone needs to evolve, it’s the uber-PC gay left and their enablers not Ann Coulter.”