Political strategist Jimmy LaSalvia was on campus Monday addressing America’s LGBT right movement and the future of the Republican Party from his viewpoint as a gay conservative.
The event, “HOMOCON: A Gay Conservative’s View from the Trenches of the Culture War”, was developed by Out Racer participant and gay conservative Alec Brock and held in the Curris Center.
Brock said he wanted to bring LaSalvia to the University to help clear up misconceptions about being a conservative and gay, which many he said, think is a contradiction
“Being gay is not something that should influence a person’s opinion on health care reform, welfare reform or education reform,” he said. “You’re political affiliation is not based on one thing, (such as) being gay, but on a multitude of issues.”
The Out Racers program helps LGBT students develop leadership and management skills and part of the program is organizing an event on campus. LaSalvia is the former CEO and founder of GOProud: a national organization for LGBT conservatives, Republicans and their allies and the only gay organization to endorse Mitt Romney in 2012. LaSalvia addressed the issues of same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination legislation, the chances of a Republican candidate being elected as president in 2016 and the party’s stance on LGBT rights.
“Real life in 2014 includes gay people,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how good your tax plan or economic plan is, if you’re beating the drum against gay people and people think you hate their gay family and friends, they’re not going to vote for you.”
In a blog March 24 , LaSalvia, a long-time Republican Party proponent, announced he would be leaving the party as he could no longer put up with his ex-party’s refusal to stand up to bigotry.
He said there are a few people who are holding the Republican Party back and until the party is willing to get rid of old and out-of-touch policies, then Republicans will be at a disadvantage in the polls.
LaSalvia said much of his time in GOProud was spent trying to disprove the notion that conservatives are all anti-gay and homophobic and that just because you’re born gay doesn’t mean you’re born liberal.
Among the students, faculty members and two local Murray congresswomen in attendance was Jody Cofer Randall, LGBT program coordinator and adviser for Out Racers.
He said he was quick to support this program as the subject of being gay and also being a Republican or a conservative is not one that’s been discussed publicly on campus before.
He said this issue is especially relevant in the South.
Kyle Shupe, president of Alliance and a member of Out Racers, said it was interesting to see discussion about how average voters’ political views are more related to each other than to either national political party.
Shupe said: “I thought it was good that LaSalvia drilled home the fact some of the parties are becoming antiquated to what the reality is now.”
Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor