The founder of the most prominent organization seeking to tie conservatism to the homosexual agenda announced this week he is leaving the Republican Party because it embraces Big Government and continues to tolerate "bigotry" within the party toward homosexuals, the latter of which he says will prevent the GOP from ever winning another national election.
Jimmy LaSalvia told WND he founded GOProud with the intention of proving that homosexuals were welcome in the Republican Party. He is no longer affiliated with the group but said he now believes the future of that cause and the party in general is hopeless.
"In 2014, demonizing gay people and opposition to homosexuality is just not OK. We've determined that that's not OK in society, but it's OK in one place in America, and that's ultimately what's going to bring them down," said LaSalvia, who explained that he did not arrive at this decision lightly.
"Over the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that the Republican Party just doesn't represent my principles and values. I'm a limited government conservative, and they're big-government people. They like government as long as they're in charge of it. And I don't tolerate bigotry of any kind, and they do. It's that cultural problem, that they seem to be out of touch with life in America today that's led me to the conclusion that the Republican Party will never again win a national election," he said.
LaSalvia said the reason the debate over homosexuality will permanently scar the GOP is because the attitude of Republicans is off-putting to countless families, who will then tune out the party on other issues.
"Every American has a gay family member or friend who they know and love, and they know that the people who demonize gay people are wrong. And they know that they're talking about their family and friends. The reason this is so damaging to the Republican Party is because it crosses all demographic lines because everyone has a gay person in their life," LaSalvia said. "So when they don't stand up to the people who demonize gays, they're essentially saying, 'We're not going to stand up for your family, your friends,' so why would anyone listen to anything else they have to say?"
GOProud made news in November when co-founder Chris Barron publicly announced he was voting for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race because he found GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli, a traditional social conservative, too extreme. LaSalvia does not live in Virginia, but said he fully understands Barron's decision.
"The fact that Ken Cuccinelli was an acceptable candidate for Republicans astonished me. Let me be clear, it's not about positions on issues. It's not. If that were the case, I would have left the Republican Party decades ago," he said. "It's about what Ken Cuccinelli thinks about people who aren't like him that made him an unacceptable candidate to me. And that's why, ultimately, the voters in Virginia chose a crook for governor rather than someone like Ken Cuccinelli. And honestly, that's why Barack Obama, a failed president, was re-elected in 2012 instead of a Republican."
Some on the right were surprised at the timing of LaSalvia's decision, since the party seems to be edging in his direction. Over the past decade, the GOP has gone from championing a traditional marriage amendment to the Constitution to nominating gay candidates for national office, issuing a post-election report urging more inclusive language on gay issues and the vast majority of Republican figures remaining mute in connection with last year's Supreme Court decisions on the definition of marriage.
LaSalvia isn't impressed.
"There's no question that all Americans are thinking differently about how issues affect gay people, and they're coming to the conclusion that everybody is coming to the conclusion of. The problem is there's a very loud faction of the Republican Party that will never change on that issue and they're tolerated," said LaSalvia, who also dismissed the RNC's 2012 report.
"Frankly, the autopsy report is putting lipstick on a pig. I've likened it to taking a cancer patient to get a makeover. She feels good, she looks great, but at the end of the day the cancer's gonna kill her unless you cut it out of her," he said.
The other reaction among conservatives to LaSalvia's accusations of bigotry is to say their beliefs are based on God's word and faith traditions that have stood for centuries, and LaSalvia is actually the one engaging in religious bigotry.
He rejects that assertion, once again being careful to separate policy positions from what he perceives as "demonization" of gays from social conservatives. He also said the debate should be over because the nation has already decided whether homosexuality is right or wrong.
"I do not believe that opposition to same-sex marriage, in and of itself, is bigotry. But there are some people who just don't like gay people, and that's not OK. In America in 2014, the vast majority of Americans and even the vast majority of Republicans have concluded that those people are wrong, but the Republican Party continues to tolerate their demonization of gay people," he said.
LaSalvia said he is now an independent conservative. He said 42 percent of Americans now consider themselves independents, with more and more people continuing to abandon both national parties, and he will be working to build consensus with those disaffected Americans.