Friday afternoon at CPAC I had a pleasant conversation with National Review Online fellow, Betsy Woodruff, who was trying to, as the headline says, sort out what it is like this year being gay at CPAC for a post at The Corner at NRO. I won’t keep you in suspense. It is a joy. I am re-connecting with blogger friends and others whom I love and respect. I’m in love with CPAC, just as I’ve been since my first one in 2009 when I had barely sat down at the very first panel I attended and panelist Andrew Klavan opined that conservatives really ought to do more outreach to gays and I astonished him by popping up and thanking him.
Chatting with Betsy, I talked a mile a minute and laid out a comprehensive analysis of why there are gays in the conservative movement, the Constitutional reasons why gays have an unalienable right to equality and why the progressive approach of advocating for gay equality by demanding people change their religious beliefs and emotions is wrong. Respectively:
- There are gays in the conservative movement because discrimination by our own families, religion and government forces gays to cope by becoming entrepreneurs in large numbers, to be self-reliant and also work together to create the businesses, services, organizations and charities the gay community needs. In other words, the gay community embodies fiscal conservatism in action. To exist, the gay community needs free enterprise and a small government that lets us keep the lion’s share of the fruits of our labors. That’s why there are gay conservatives and over a third of gays vote Republican.
- Unalienable rights, as Ted Olson points out, are not subject to majority rule, so federalism does not apply to them. The Constitutional protections of equality for gays are due process, equal protection, the Establishment clause, the right to free exercise of religion and the full faith and credit clause. To assert that the best path to equality for gays is any form of majority rule is identical to asserting that gays are subhuman, not created equal or endowed with unalienable rights. It also is identical to saying that religions are entitled to define various groups as unworthy of equality and then use civil law to disadvantage or even destroy them.
- Progressives are wrong to demand tolerance and denounce rhymes-with-late. People advocating for the liberty to love must also protect the liberty to rhymes-with-late and leave others be regarding their beliefs and emotions. The correct approach is the conservative one, which is concerned with limiting the coercive powers of government. This means that social conservatism has no business coveting the coercive powers of government to impose religious beliefs in civil law. It means that in a nation founded on the protection of religious liberty, social conservatives must be content with what they can accomplish in the marketplace of ideas using only the powers of persuasion. In the marketplace of ideas, they can believe anything and be as rhymes-with-lateful as they want.
I also told Betsy that our national political conversation now is one of dueling totalisms: the progressive serfdom of the all-controlling nanny state vs. the social conservatives’ ideal of an all-controlling theocracy. This explains the political homelessness of the fiscal conservative/social liberal, whose would-be leaders are barred from rising in either political party.
Oh, and I called social conservatives the architects of the Left because so many of its constituent groups are natural fiscal conservatives but social conservatives purged them on theocratic grounds. Progressives welcomed these groups but do not serve them unless they are useful in destroying free enterprise. Gays depend on free enterprise, which is why progressives use gays primarily as worker bees and cash cows and the only other places where gays are welcome on the Left is at the back of the bus or under it.
That is how I tore into social conservatives when I spoke with Betsy. But I did it entirely in conservative terms. I can’t stand the thought that conservatives reading her column will assume that I used progressive ideas to critique social conservatives. I did not. Ick.
However, regarding conservative gays being treated courteously by conservatives, I do say there is no such thing as a courteous way to tell gays they are unworthy of equality. It is indeed an intrinsically offensive statement to make and position to hold. (It’s worth noting I first said this to Mark Steyn when he was standing in for Rush Limbaugh in 2010 and he invited gay conservatives to call in and discuss how we were being treated by the tea party. I told him I’ve been treated very well by the tea party — except for that.)
This brings me to Betsy’s encapsulating the gay experience at CPAC 2013 as a place so genuinely inclusive of diversity that Rick Santorum and Cynthia Yockey are both there and greet one another pleasantly. Genius. It’s true. That is how CPAC and the conservative movement do diversity.
Technically, on Friday Sen. Santorum and I were only metaphorically face-to-face since he was about 15 feet away from where Betsy and I were sitting. I didn’t see him coming because I was facing Betsy and turned away from former Sen. Santorum as he walked past us with his entourage. Betsy kindly pointed him out, perhaps expecting an explosion since Sen. Santorum is the great Satan of gay progressives. Instead, I remained serene. That’s because the only limit I want imposed on Sen. Santorum concerns his ability to impose his religion on me through the coercive powers of the state.
(I actually have met Sen. Santorum because he had the wits and class to visit the Bloggers’ Lounge at CPAC 2010 or 2011 and my friend Stacy McCain introduced us, including the name of my blog. Sen. Santorum was pleasant and courteous and so was I.)
So, what is it like being gay at CPAC? More than ever, it’s a joy. The only true friends gays have are conservatives. We can settle our differences in Constitutional terms, which will be articulated by conservative attorney Ted Olson before the Supreme Court when he argues for marriage equality in the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases before it on March 26 and 27.
As I told the gay Left in October 2011, equality for gays will come from the Right. The watershed moment for gay equality at CPAC came together in an organic way in the “Rainbow on the Right” seminar this year, thanks to ACU board member and Competitive Enterprise Institute founder, Fred L. Smith, Jr., who just thought it was the right thing to do.
This is my fifth CPAC and my fourth as an official CPAC blogger. I can attend CPAC thanks to generous donations of my dear conservative gentle readers. In fact, I’ve been able to haul myself back from the brink of death and have just recovered my health thanks to the donations of my dear conservative gentle readers. I fell in love with CPAC in 2009 and I am even more deeply in love with CPAC now. For me, that is what it is like being gay at CPAC.