The gay Republican group GOProud spoke out today against presumptive Republican nominee former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)’s decision to deliver the commencement address at the Jerry Falwell-founded Christian college Liberty University, according to Talking Points Memo‘s “TPM Livewire” blog.
GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia sent an email to reporters as Romney delivered the speech that read, in part, “Today, Governor Mitt Romney spoke at Liberty University. Liberty was founded by the late Jerry Falwell, who in 2007 said, ‘AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers … AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.’”
LaSalvia opined in the statement that “big government theocrats” like Falwell and his followers are not the legitimate heirs to the “modern conservative movement.” Calling former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) the father of that movement, he related an anecdote in which the senator once said that Falwell needed “a kick in the ass.”
“With his speech at Falwell’s Liberty University,” wrote LaSalvia, “it is clear that Governor Romney’s message to Goldwater conservatives is: drop dead.”
The activist went on to excoriate Romney and his record, saying that he and GOProud’s board have “long had reservations” about supporting the former Massachusetts governor and that they question the seriousness of his commitment to “cutting the size and scope of government, about his commitment to federalism and about whether or not he will dramatically cut federal spending.”
LaSalvia stopped short, however, of declaring that the group would withdraw its support of Romney as the Republican Party’s nominee. “We have said since our founding in 2009, that we are committed to defeating Barack Obama. We remain committed to Obama’s defeat. However, if Governor Romney expects to be the candidate who can beat Obama in November then he needs to embrace a strategy that makes victory possible – falling into the culture war trap laid by Obama is a guaranteed electoral loser.”
LaSalvia founded GOProud in 2009 along with writer Chris Barron.