Ann Coulter doesn’t mince words. And even when speaking to a gay conservative organization, GOProud, at their inaugural Homocon party on Saturday night, she apparently wasn’t willing to start.
After a series of jokes about conservative that sounded — and were received — more like a stand-up act then a political speech, Coulter told the assembled (and predominantly wealthy) conservative gay crowd why they should oppose same sex marriage, adding, “I should warn you: I’ve never failed to talk gays out of gay marriage.”
And then she did.
First, she ran down the stereotypical stand-up comedian’s list of reasons, including that lacking the legal right to marriage allows the less-committed partner to weasel out of it. But in a more serious note, she parroted the losing arguments of the lawyers supporting California’s Prop 8 and told the crowd that the reason she opposes (and they should oppose) same sex marriage is that it is strictly for procreation.
In one of a series of racially insensitive remarks that pervaded her speech, Coulter added, “Marriage is not a civil right. You’re not black.” It was part of a larger argument on which she later elaborated, telling the crowd that the 14th Amendment only applies to African-Americans and that it does not, in fact, apply to women, LGBT people or other minorities.
Despite the laugh lines, Coulter’s arguments against same sex marriage were not well-received by much of the crowd: for instance, the question and answer session after the speech was dominated by Homocon attendees grilling her on her position on a range of issues, including whether opposition to same sex marriage was really in line with the conservative principles of limited government and whether she personally believes that homosexuality is a choice — a question she declined to answer. In response to a question from GOProud chairman Chris Barron, she did imply that conservative opposition to same sex marriage from politicians who benefited from no-fault divorce was hypocritical and suggested that marriage-minded politicians ought to back a wholesale effort to repeal no-fault divorce laws in the states.
In fact, despite opening her speech with a joke about the difficulty of “coming out” as a fiscal conservative to one’s parents — something she congratulated the attendees on — Coulter’s speech to GOProud mystifyingly focused on social issues and not the fiscal and foreign policy issues that brought most of the attendees there. For instance, she told GOProud that the conservative gay rights movement ought to make common cause with the anti-abortion movement because, she said, “as soon as they find the gay gene, you know who’s getting aborted.” Coulter also made a forceful case against sex education in schools, accusing liberals of attempting to teach kindergartners about “fisting” (which garnered her a heckler, who shouted out “What’s wrong with fisting?”) and told the crowd that most parents didn’t want their children learning about the “homosexual lifestyle” instead of reading and writing.
Several attendees, who requested anonymity, were also startled by her racially-tinged humor: in addition to her comments about civil rights, she also accused single parents of breeding muggers and blamed the decline in marriage in the African-American community on welfare, “the subsidization of single parenting” and overly liberal child support laws. Coulter’s comments about civil rights being “only for the blacks” rubbed many people the wrong way as well, though her joke about oppression and the amount of money in the gay community compared to other minority communities (“Blacks must be looking at the gays saying, ‘Why can’t we be oppressed like that?'”) garnered plenty of laughs from the well-heeled crowd.
GOProud’s executive director, Jimmy LaSalvia, told TPM after the speech, “I don’t agree with Ann Coulter about gay marriage, but there was a real conversation here. That’s what we’re trying to start.” He added, “We want people to see that it isn’t ‘us versus them.'” As an organization, he explained, GOProud focuses strictly on federal issues which means that, institutionally, they don’t take a position on state policy issues like same sex marriage. Unlike the Log Cabin Republicans who exist, according to LaSalvia, to push from many of the same agenda items as the “gay left,” GOProud seeks to redefine what are “gay” issues and push for issues of the largest importance to the LGBT community.
Pressed to discuss what specific issues GOProud supports, LaSalvia pointed to their work with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) on a failed amendment to last year’s federal hate crimes bill that would have allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons over state lines and their work with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on what he termed a “free market alternative” to the health care reform legislation that GOProud thought would be more beneficial to LGBT people.
LaSalvia also said that GOProud was a “strong supporter” of Israel, as it’s the only country in the region that doesn’t persecute (or kill) LGBT people — and specifically pointed to Iran’s use of capital punishment against gay Iranians as something the organization wished to use U.S. foreign policy to help end. In that, at least, they could probably find plenty of common ground with the so-called “gay left” that LaSalvia, Barron and others at Homocon openly disdained.
Nonetheless, most attendees — including host (and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel) — cited economic issues as the ones most near and dear to their hearts. Theil told TPM that he supported GOProud because, “It’s all the economy. There’s no plan for the future, no plan for growth,” by the current Administration. Thiel, known more as a libertarian than a Republican, typified the attendees at the event, all of whom cited their fiscal conservatism as the reason for their involvement in the gay conservative movement.
As multiple people told TPM, it was nice to be in a group of other gay conservatives for once. One woman, who requested anonymity said, “I’m not out at work, but I know I could never tell anyone I was a Republican.”