Monday, February 22, 2010

GOProud draws angry speech at CPAC convention in Washington: (some think "gay conservative" is an oxymoron")


Well, the American Conservative Union CPAC (link) drew some denouncement, at least from Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom (almost a "sic" here), for allowing a gay conservative group GOProud (not GOPride) to have a presence at its convention (Conservative Political Action Conference) this past weekend right here in Washington DC. The story by Eric Kleefled appears at TPM here.



The speech included a mashup of “natural rights” v. individual rights when he said "civil rights are grounded in natural rights and natural rights are grounded in human nature". There were lots of boos. At least there wasn't the ritual clapping which is the British forum for disapproval.

To some, “gay conservative” sounds like an oxymoron. In fact, a reviewer on Amazon wrote about me with respect to my 1997 book, “he tries to identify himself as both a conservative and a libertarian. In fact, he's neither.” (I like her term "monument to convolution".) Andrew Sullivan had made the case for a nexus between gay rights and conservatism back with his 2006 book “The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back”.

The connection is the concept of “personal responsibility” and a willingness not to demand preferences from others just based on membership in an oppressed group. (Escape from the ideology of preferences goes both ways!) But of course, any thinking about personal responsibility expands to concerns over inequality (we start out at different places in line), hidden sacrifices, and unequal exposure to risks and uncertainties. That takes us back to the “social conservative’s” concern for the family: at least, the “egalitarian” (it turns out) idea that everyone should have some family responsibility, even if he or she doesn’t have children (often enough, people have to raise other people’s children or take care of family members). This makes the gay marriage and gay adoption issues critical, but not for the reasons usually stated. The “equal risk” issue brings back the “don’t ask don’t tell” problem, and reminds us of an era when we had conscription and unfair deferments. But socially conservative thought sometimes transcends any pretense of equality: lately we have been seeing more emphasis that the “family” should be reborn as the central focus of consciousness, rather than the individual, because it is only the “family” that can survive, vicariously at least. (As in Carlson’s “manifesto” “The Natural Family” (2007; books blog, Sept. 18, 2009).)

As of this writing, the most recent posting at Gay Patriot on the CPAC convention seems to be here.

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