Monday, February 14, 2011

Strange Times at CPAC: PFOX Was There

PFOX was at CPAC. Less acronymously, anti-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays had a booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference meeting in DC this past week. They wrote about it on their blog.
It was a hectic but successful three days for the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) exhibit booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. We answered numerous questions from attendees and handed out factual [sic] materials about homosexuality and defense of the natural family.

Members of GOProud, a gay Republican organization, steadily sent their members to our PFOX exhibit booth, so we had the chance to speak with them at length about self-determination, changing one’s sexual orientation from gay to straight, and ex-gay rights. GOProud heard about change from the mouths of ex-gays, who related their personal stories and handed them our Can Sexual Orientation Change brochures.

The representatives of GOProud, which also hosted an exhibit booth at CPAC, informed us that they oppose gay marriage because marriage is special and should only be between a man and a woman. GOProud representatives also said they believe in ex-gay rights and equal access for former homosexuals. We gave them our Tolerance for the Ex-Gay Community brochure.

We also encountered more homosexual-identified attendees than we ever have at previous CPAC conferences. Some were nice, some were nasty, but we welcomed them all with our information and smiles. We had good, informative discussions.

We also met many tea party activists at CPAC who were interested in what we had to say. Incidentally, our PFOX exhibit was located across from the exhibit booth of the Libertarian Party. PFOX's Exhibit Booth at CPAC

Maybe some of our commenters can explain why gay Republicans would support a group that exists to talk gay people into pretending to be straight. The phrase "self-loathing" has become a bit of a cliche, but I am frankly having trouble wrapping my head around this "gay Republican" idea. If they don't like gay people and believe that sexual orientation is a choice, then why don't they just ... turn straight? Straight Republicans I can understand. So far "gay Republican" only sounds like an oxymoron to me.

BTW, one thing to say in favor of the Tea Party is that they seem to have mostly avoided the hate-the-gays rhetoric. In fact, there have been numerous defections by Republican teabaggers who vote against restrictions on marriage on the grounds that they believe that government should not be involved in citizens' private personal decisions. As much as I worry about their tendency to oversimplify the economics of running a country, some of them do seem to stick to their principles on the issue of marriage equality. It seems to me that all Americans who cherish liberty should agree that individuals have the right to choose who they will marry, and not the government.

Oh, and this is just weird.
PFOX’s exhibit booth displayed our Certificate of Appreciation from the Government of the District of Columbia. The Certificate was issued over a year ago to PFOX’s executive director in recognition of her outstanding contributions. PFOX was instrumental in achieving equal rights for ex-gays under the D.C. Human Rights Act with our landmark legal case. In light of the new mayor’s commitment to “One City,” PFOX’s civil rights achievement is more important than ever. Like the D.C. mayor, we believe in one city, one people, without division of race, class, or sexual orientation.

PFOX did not achieve equal rights for ex-gays under the D.C. Human Rights Act with any landmark legal case. They lost the case. But more importantly, the mayor of DC gave them an award but then a few days later the mayor's office said it was a "staff-level error."
“We apologize for the error as it runs contrary to the mayor’s vision of a more open and inclusive city,” [Fenty spokeswoman Mafara] Hobson said. “The mayor is proud of his ardent support of the LGBT community.” Fenty apologizes for PFOX award

Apparently the mayor did not officially cancel or rescind the award. PFOX is not ashamed to display this "mistake" of an award and to claim it as genuine, even though the mayor of the city apologized for it. This is emblematic of their level of honesty and standing in the community.

This year CPAC accepted the presence of a gay conservative group, GOProud, even though it meant that the far-right Family Blah Blah groups would boycott the conference. It may be that Republicans realize that dehumanizing LGBT Americans is not consistent with a conservative political philosophy and are making honest changes to be more inclusive. It could also mean that party leaders believe they can adjust their slogans to be more appealing to LGBT voters and straight allies who care about fair treatment and equal rights for all. The presence of PFOX at the conference suggests that conservatives have not really adopted an inclusive perspective, that they allowed some gay attendees but are hoping they will read the PFOX materials and stop being so embarrassingly gay.

I saw something last week that has haunted me. Here's President Reagan's spokesman Larry Speakes fielding a press conference in 1982.
Reporter: “Does the President have any reaction to the announcement -- the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta--that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?”

Speakes: “What’s AIDS?”

Reporter: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (There is laughter from Speakes) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the president is aware of it?”

Speakes: “I don’t have it. Do you?” (Laughs)

Reporter: No, I don't.

Speakes: You didn't answer my question.

Reporter: Well, I just wondered, does the President --

Speakes: How do you know? (Laughter)

Reporter: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke? White House Press Conference, 1982

The AIDS epidemic appeared on Reagan's watch and the great hero of modern conservatism remained absolutely silent about it. He did nothing, said nothing, pretended it didn't exist even after his friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS. It was, after all, a disease that seemed to affect only gay people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

GOProud should change its name to GOProudlyBackIntoTheCloset.

PFOX is pitiful with their continued attempt to spin a "staff-level error" into an actual award earned for losing a court case.

February 14, 2011 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Reagan's record on AIDS is an abomination.

As for lgbt Republicans, I completely get it. People make compromises depending on what's important to them, and on what they can stomach. LGBT people do that with where they live, for whom they work, where they go to church, who their friends are, and yes, for whom they vote. The Democratic party is no shining city on a hill, as far as I am concerned

That said, GOProud is a parody.


February 14, 2011 3:37 PM  

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