Jimmy LaSalvia: Today, I joined the ranks of unaffiliated voters. I am every bit as conservative as I’ve always been, but I just can’t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer. You see, I just don’t agree with the big-government ‘conservatives’ who run the party now.For those who need to catch up here, GOProud is an organization of LGBT Republicans who seem to exist solely to demonstrate that there are LGBT Republicans. It's an offshoot of the Log Cabin Republicans, a similar group that LaSalvia and fellow GOProud co-founder Christopher R. Barron left because it was "too centrist."
The other reason I am leaving is the tolerance of bigotry in the GOP. The current leadership lacks the courage to stand up to it – I’m not sure they ever will.
I have worked hard to help to create an atmosphere on the right where conservatives can openly support gay Americans and even support same-sex marriage. In that effort, we have won, but there is more work to do to root out the anti-gay and other forms of bigotry in the party.
So I changed my voter registration today – “No Party.”
There's a lot that's confusing about all this; not the least of which is that GOProud itself hasn't had the best record of standing up to Republican bigots. The group argues that marriage equality is a state's rights issue (meaning they've washed their hands of the issue). The group seems to have started off as a way for gay conservatives and other Republicans to find common ground -- while glossing over their more conspicuous differences -- but has more recently started showing signs of being gay conservatives standing up for themselves.
In the 2012 presidential campaign, LaSalvia outed Tony Fabrizio, Rick Perry's campaign pollster, over a homophobic campaign ad put out by the Perry campaign. "I've just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from anti-gay homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus," LaSalvia said, outing Fabrizio on Twitter.
So the evolution of Jimmy LaSalvia from token apologist to change-from-within activist is pretty clear here. He started off as part of a group arguing that gay Republicans should just ignore all the homophobia and work together with bigots for the greater good. Now he's not interested in ignoring all the homophobia.
Leaving the GOP seems to be a no-brainer here, but you have to question the effectiveness of the example in bringing about change. He says he's now an "independent conservative," but who do you think indie conservatives vote for? If you're not registered as a Republican, why should anyone care? As long as you vote Republican, your official voter registration is basically just a technicality. There's a constitutional remedy to Republican bigots in office. You vote them out of office. The Republican Party isn't going to change until people who vote Republican begin to go away. Maybe that means voting Democrat, maybe that means not voting at all. But it does mean not voting Republican. Or at least, only voting for the highly endangered gay rights-supporting Republicans.
Jimmy LaSalvia's evolution has definitely been heading in the right direction, but it may still have a way to go. The only way to fix this party is to be willing to hurt it. Because as long as you're still willing to vote GOP, you're rewarding hate.
[image by Mario Piperni]
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