On Thursday evening at CPAC, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is a sponsor of CPAC, held a panel called Rainbow on the Right, which featured only conservatives who favor equality for gays. (!!!!!!!111!!!!111!!!) CEI founder, Fred L. Smith, Jr., told me in a phone conversation a few days ago that he sits on the American Conservative Union’s board and he was surprised this year that GOProud had not applied to be a sponsor. Since sponsors are allowed to have seminars on the topics of their own choosing with panel members of their own choosing, the idea just naturally came up at CEI that they ought to dedicate one of their seminars to the subject of gay equality and include GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia. The rest of the panel was comprised of Fred, Republican campaign strategist Liz Mair, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, author and CNN political contributor Margaret Hoover and author, Fox News commentator and National Review Online editor-at-large, Jonah Goldberg.
I was very happy with all the speakers and the fact that most of the audience gave them enthusiastic applause. (I think the ones that didn’t were a mix of wary social conservatives and even warier progressives, mostly the latter, since there were plenty of progressive journalists attending, including two I recognized immediately, Mike Signorile and Sally Kohn.) The room wasn’t just standing room only, it was packed and I heard later that a number of people who wanted into the room just could not squeeze in.
So none of my dear gentle readers will be surprised that in the question and answer period I made several points that I make here frequently, which obviously astonished the progressive gay journalists (and probably some of the panel members). But I had learned something amazing and vitally important, which is that most of the arguments I’m making for gay equality are original and unique. That is, I’m the only one making them. There was really only one overlap of my ideas with Margaret Hoover’s and it’s because we both lifted it from conservative attorney, Ted Olson, who will be arguing in the Supreme Court March 26 and 27 respectively for the repeal of California’s Prop 8, which repealed marriage equality in that state, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. (DOMA was passed to thwart federalism and the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, thus revealing the reverence with which social conservatives observe federalism and the Constitution — you should totally read Elizabeth Birch’s takedown of Bill Clinton’s recent self-flattering revision of the history of why he signed it into law).
So the point that Margaret and I both lifted from Ted Olson is his research into decisions of the Supreme Court on marriage starting from 1888 include 14 ruling that marriage is a right. Unalienable rights are not subject to majority rule, therefore they are not delegated to the states. Neither fiscal nor social conservative commentators have bothered to read up on this, so it is going to be a bolt from the blue for them. Well, that and the tsunami of amicus briefs countering every objection to gay equality ever raised in gay equality cases.
But the most important thing I learned is that I am making unique arguments for gay equality. Without going into specifics, if I step lively before March 30, I can pull together a book proposal and have a shot at getting a literary agent. So I will put up as many posts as I can manage with the equipment I have during CPAC and the day after (Sunday), then I’m going to concentrate on that. While I’m doing that I will blog here as often as I can manage on the topic of overcoming blockers to one’s progress toward an objective, and of course, I doubt I’ll be able to resist commenting on the coverage of the Prop 8/DOMA cases.
Props to Mike Signorile on interviewing me for his Sirius radio show after the panel and being reasonably fair. He said he would read this blog. I hope this opens up a dialog. The biggest problem that gay progressives have in arguing for equality is that they don’t know they don’t understand the principles and constituencies of the conservative movement with the result that they never address our concerns in ways we find persuasive. As an ex-liberal, I speak both Left and Right. I’d like a shot at explaining these things to him (after I’ve written the book proposal).
Also, Jimmy LaSalvia told me that GOProud did ask unofficially whether they would be allowed to sponsor CPAC this year and, although Jimmy didn’t say it quite this way, they were given to understand that GOProud was welcome to sponsor CPAC as soon as hell froze over, but not until. So they never officially applied. Instead they went about minding their own business. It’s 4:40 am now and I have to get up at 6 am, so as soon as I can, I’ll pick up the story of how the GOProud/CPAC story blew up in an entirely organic way, beginning with an opinion piece and a tweet.