Peaks and Valleys

GOProud's controversy-seeking paid dividends at CPAC, but a controversial ''outing'' caused turmoil in the ranks

By Sean Bugg
Published on December 22, 2011, 7:55am | Comments

The pragmatic conservatism of Log Cabin Republicans may have kept them in the news in 2011 as the group pursued its lawsuit challenging ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' to the bitter end (while one judge had found the gay military ban to be unconstitutional, the case was dismissed this year after the repeal of that ban finally took effect), but it was GOProud that had the flashier year of public relations peaks and valleys.

The annual CPAC conference in D.C. has gained fame as a platform for the rightest of the right wing to hear Republican candidates and firebrands. But in February 2011, the only CPAC topic that seemed to matter was GOProud, whose sponsorship of CPAC drew condemnations and withdrawals from the right. No matter: Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia had Andrew Breitbart on their side — a straight, conservative ally who embodies the abrasive, combative style so favored by GOProud.

While GOProud was the belle of the ball, at least in terms of press coverage, Barron did find himself apologizing for calling Cleta Mitchell — a conservative activist allied with the Heritage Foundation — ''just a nasty bigot,'' a comment that angered right-wing blog stars Eric Erickson and Michelle Malkin. It was perhaps a bit of foreshadowing for December, when in response to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign ad that directly attacked gay and lesbian Americans LaSalvia tweeted, ''I've just about had it with faggots who line their pockets with checks from anti-gay homophobes while throwing the rest of us under the bus.'' Adding some specificity a few hours later, LaSalvia tweeted, ''I was talking about Rick Perry's pollster/strategist.''

That would be Tony Fabrizio. And that would be a tweet too far for Breitbart, who resigned from the GOProud advisory board in protest of the ''outing'' of Fabrizio. As for GOProud, they may have found themselves hung on a question of when does ''out'' end and ''outing'' begin. Barron told Metro Weekly, ''We didn't think that there was any question about Tony Fabrizio's sexual orientation.'' Fabrizio has, in fact, long been involved with LGBT groups such as Log Cabin and the Gill Foundation. Regardless, Barron was out as the GOProud board chair, although the ''day to day'' management of the group will remain the same.

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