A leading gay Republican has decided to leave the GOP over what he says is the political party’s “tolerance of gibotry.”
Jimmy LaSalvia, founder of the conservative gay advocacy group GOProud, announced on his online blog that he could no longer in good conscience carry the flag of the Republican Party because of the prevalence of what he calls “big-government ‘conservatives’ who run the party now.”
He also decried the party’s tolerance of what has at times been unbelievably crude and nasty homophobic rhetoric from the extreme right of the Republican Party. He chided his former party’s leadership for failing to stand up to the extremists in the GOP.
LaSalvia went on to state that his goal now was to “create an atmosphere on the right where conservatives can openly support gay Americans and even support same-sex marriage.”
He conceded that there was a great deal of work to do in order to “root out the anti-gay and other forms of bigotry in the Party.” Despite this he has said that he feels “a huge sense of freedom” and said that identifying as an “independent conservative” was better than calling oneself “a gay Republican.”
This is not a Road to Damascus conversion. La Salvia, after all, said his decision to leave the GOP was as much informed by what he calls “big-government” conservatives within his Party as their tolerance of homophobia. He has also said that he remains as conservative as ever.
However his departure is hugely embarrassing for the Republican Party. In a country where Independents and moderates can essentially decide an election, the Republican Party cannot afford to alienate the LGBT community in the U.S., especially since it has already alienated so many other demographics such as women, Latino voters and African-Americans.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party, its leadership is beholden to the extremists within it, whose support they continue to rely on in order to keep more reactionary conservatives in line and prevent a possible insurgency from the GOP’s extreme-right flank.