Co-founder of LGBT conservative group GOProud Jimmy LaSalvia likened being a gay man and “team player” in the Republican Party to being the parent of a crack-addicted teen. In an interview with Raw Story, LaSalvia said that the GOP is going to have to “hit bottom” to break its addiction to bigotry and anti-LGBT hate.
In a blog post on Monday, LaSalvia announced that after years of struggling to change the Republican Party’s hardline anti-LGBT stance from within, he is giving up and leaving the party.
“I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m beating my head against a wall,” said LaSalvia, “trying to help an organization that does not share my values. My values do not tolerate bigotry.”
“I have spent my whole career working to create an atmosphere where gay conservatives could live their lives openly and work in the conservative movement,” he said, but again and again, the Republican Party has missed its chances to denounce naked bigotry in its ranks. “The Republicans made a decision to be on the wrong side.”
During the campaign to elect former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), he said, the candidate chose openly gay Republican operative Kenneth Grenell as its foreign policy spokesperson.
A surge of right-wing outrage forced the campaign to let Grenell go within days. Romney, LaSalvia said, “couldn’t stand up for Grenell” or even say that it was wrong to judge someone on the basis of their orientation.
“The Republican Party staged a convention with, essentially, a Noah’s Ark of speakers lined up,” he continued. “They had every single group represented on that stage by speakers except gays and Muslims despite questions for weeks ahead of time whether or not they were going to have a gay speaker.”
GOProud staged a huge event in Tampa during the convention with more than 1,000 attendees, “and the Romney campaign couldn’t even bring themselves to send a surrogate to say ‘Thank you for your support,'” LaSalvia said.
The nomination of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the Republican candidate for governor was another slap in the face from the party.
“It was astonishing,” said LaSalvia. “I likened it to David Duke running in the early 1990s in Louisiana. This is a man who says that his fellow Americans are ‘soulless’ and need help.“
“That’s the question,” he said, “whether they’re going to go the way of the Dixiecrats, whether they’re going to hold on to their bigotry to the bitter end. And I think they might.”
“I liken what I did in leaving the party this week,” he said, “to tough love parenting. You try to help your drug-addicted child to the point where you just have to put your foot down and cut them off because they’ve got to hit bottom before they’re going to realize.”
“I thought that they had hit bottom after the last election. And they even did treatment in the form of an autopsy report,” he said, “but they still haven’t given up their crack.”
By only dealing with its bigotry problem “around the edges,” he said, the Republican Party makes it official that it tolerates the hate.
“To me, the autopsy kind of seems a year later like they’ve taken a terminally ill cancer patient in for a makeover,” he said. “She feels good, she looks great, but at the end of the day, the cancer’s going to kill her unless you cut it out of her.”