NEW YORK, N.Y. — They’re here. They’re queer. And they want a lower capital gains tax.
GOProud, a Washington-based group that dubs itself as “the only national organization of gay conservatives and their allies,” hosted its first national gathering Saturday night in Manhattan, which included a guest appearance from Ann Coulter, a high-profile member of a growing chorus of conservatives who are beginning to welcome gays into the conservative movement.
The group represents a sliver of the gay community who agree with conservatives on many policy issues and say they are tired of the Democratic Party assuming it has a monopoly on their support. They believe in free markets, limited government and low taxes, but just happen to be attracted to the same sex.
They know that they don’t fit comfortably into any traditional label: Some social conservatives are apprehensive to accept them because of their socially liberal views on gay marriage, and there are pockets of the left that abhor them for even entertaining the thought of supporting Republicans.
To help bridge the gap between social conservatives and gays who want to play a role in the conservative movement, enter Ann Coulter. (Stage right, of course.)
In a speech to about 150 GOProud supporters who gathered at the home of billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel in New York City, Coulter acknowledged that gays could play an important role in the conservative movement, but was clear about her continued opposition to gay marriage.
“I thought I’d try to talk you out of gay marriage,” Coulter said. “I will warn you that I have never failed to talk gays out of gay marriage.”
While the crowd seemed thrilled to hear the best-selling author roll off a string of classic Coulter one-liners that left many of them in stitches –“It’s hard to believe this now, but when Obama was running for president he presented himself as a moderate Democrat. To be fair, in Kenya he is a moderate.” — her speech against gay marriage failed to find many converts, if any.
At the crux of her argument, Coulter said that marriage was for procreation and insisted gays had no grounds to base support for gay marriage on civil rights.
“It’s not a civil right,” she said. “You’re not black.”
After her prepared remarks, Coulter opened the floor for questions, and got flooded.
When asked by 22-year-old college student Matt Hissey from Westchester, Pennsylvania to explain why she thought the Fourteenth Amendment, which ensures equal protection under the law, did not apply to gays who want to get married, Coulter replied, “It’s for the blacks, it’s for the blacks.”
Alexander McCobin, who heads up the libertarian group Students for Liberty, asked if the government should just get out of marriage altogether. Coulter replied that the institution was too important to be left to society without the government’s support, arguing that marriage “has got to be defended.”
GOProud didn’t bring Coulter to New York because they thought she would deliver a passionate defense of gay marriage. It was, after all, a party, not a policy event.
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“We didn’t invite her here because we agree on everything,” said GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia. “We invited her here because we know she gives a great speech and we had a great dialogue on that subject tonight.”
Or, as GOProud Board Chairman Christopher Barron bluntly put it: “We’re the only gay group that had the balls to have someone like Ann Coulter come speak to them.”
Most of the attendees who spoke to The Daily Caller after the event said they disagreed with Coulter on the gay marriage issue, but liked that she didn’t water down her rhetoric because of the audience. More importantly, they could still work together as conservatives despite disagreeing on a few issues.
“I admire her courage to come into what would obviously be a hostile crowd on that issue and stand up for what she believes,” said Bill Christian, a GOProud supporter from Washington D.C. “All of the other points she made, I think we can find agreement on.”
If there was one overarching theme many said they took away from the night, it was that a person like Ann Coulter could usher in more acceptance from mainstream conservatives, despite differences on certain policy issues.
“It’s going to be an evolution,” said Robert Leath, a self described “gay conservative” who flew from North Carolina for the party. “But ultimately we have to create a conservative movement where all constituencies are welcome at the table, and tonight was a great beginning of that dialogue.” He added that he saw the mere fact that Coulter showed up as an “olive branch” from social conservatives.
Others said it was only a matter of time before the Republican Party opened up to gay conservatives.
“I think that the gay bashing will be taken out of the Republican agenda and I think it’s getting there,” said Michael Lucas, founder of New York’s largest gay adult film company who the New Republic magazine once described as “Gay Porn’s Neocon Kingpin.” “This event shows that they are coming to us.”
When asked if she thought she had changed any hearts and minds, Coulter told TheDC, “The truth is…they’re already against gay marriage, they just wont admit it publicly. I’m trying to get these gays to come out of the closet.”
As for GOProud, which has been accepted as an affiliate sponsor to the Conservative Political Action Conference next year, planning for “Homocon 2011” is already in the works.