On Tuesday night’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News contributor, media guru, and reformed liberal Bernie Goldberg denounced the “strain of bigotry” within the American conservative movement.
Inspired by the One Million Moms Project’s demand that JC Penny fire Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson – because she is gay –Mr. Goldberg refused to parse words:
"There is a strain of bigotry… running through conservative America. It doesn’t mean all conservatives are bigots, or even that most conservatives are bigots... But there is a strain of bigotry, and it goes against gay people…Reasonable people may disagree on gay marriage, that’s fine. But to call on somebody’s dismissal, to be fired, to lose her job because she is gay, is bigotry.
And I don’t care how many people listening to us right now don’t like that. It’s bigotry."
Mr. Goldberg’s denunciation of right wing bigotry is timely as the American conservative movement’s movers and shakers gather this week for the annual CPAC convention.
This year, GOProud, an organization that I support, is conspicuously excluded from all formal participation despite co-sponsoring the convention for the last two years.
GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies and I’ve been honored to serve on the Advisory Council for the last two years.
Unlike me, GOProud takes no position on same-sex marriage, nor has it supported any controversial liberally gay-right’s positions.
GOProud has instead argued that gays are natural conservatives, and that limited government, free-markets, and maintaining a strong national defense are principles that serve all Americans, including gay Americans.
Unfortunately, despite their conservative agenda, GOProud has been excluded from CPAC 2012 thanks to the very bigotry that Bernie Goldberg spotlighted on "The O'Reilly Factor."
Some conservative groups believe that a person cannot be both conservative and gay.
They believe that traditional lives cannot be led by those who have not traditionally been accepted by society.
They have confused the principles of freedom-- tenants to which conservatives willingly subscribe--with a person’s sexual orientation, a characteristic trait over which an individual has no control.
This lack of distinction, and the prejudice that follows, represent the most despicable impulses in American politics.
A handful of social conservative organizations and individuals that participate in CPAC have bullied the new leadership of the American Conservative Union (ACU) – the organization that puts on CPAC – into excluding GOProud from participating in this year’s convention.
For the last two years CPAC, under long time ACU Board Chair David Keene, stared down these forces of intolerance. But this year, behind the scenes, in quiet back room deals, the bigots won.
Publicly CPAC’s new leadership claims the decision was based on new ‘civility’ requirements – requirements that seem to only apply to gay conservative organizations as CPAC has openly welcomed the socially conservative organizations that engaged in vicious, sometimes personal, public attacks on the previous leadership of CPAC that stood with GOProud.
The result is that CPAC 2012 is triumphantly homosexual-free, but welcomes the participation of fringe characters like Joseph Farah, the self-professed "birther king."
CPAC’s move pushes the American conservative movement dangerously away from Reagan’s Big Tent, and closer to politely whispering the politics of hate.
I was honored to ascend the CPAC stage and address the CPAC convention last year.
Again this year, I was invited to be a CPAC speaker, but choose instead to stand with GOProud, in a spirit of solidarity with a vision of conservatism that unapologetically advances individual freedom.
In a week where a circuit appeals court in California upheld that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, and where acceptance of homosexual Americas are increasingly accepted as full members of our society, where discrimination written into our military is being dismantled, some key leaders of the American conservative movement embrace the opposite trend.
I’m grateful for Mr. Goldberg’s truth telling.
I am grateful for Ted Olson, the founder of the conservative Federalist Society, Solicitor General for George W. Bush, and successful litigant of Perry v. Schwarzenegger who said Wednesday that
“discrimination on this level, to our citizens hurts all of us… It is our neighbors, it is our brothers, and our sisters, our sons and our daughters, our co-workers, our doctors, our contractors, our ministers, it is about us, every one of us.…We will be more American in this country when we eliminate discrimination based upon sexual orientation.”
I’m grateful to Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, an openly gay Republican, who recently wrote that our party’s greatest moments, “from the unbelievable economic recovery unleashed by lower taxes and less regulation to the fall of the Berlin Wall — resulted when we promoted freedom.”
These individuals represent a conservative movement for the next generation of America – one that inspires and strengthens the ideals of the Declaration –of which I am proud to be aligned.
I hope that in future years the leadership of CPAC recognizes the mistake it has made, and renounces the path of bigotry, which is utterly inconsistent with the values of individual freedom we all purport to cherish.
Margaret Hoover is a writer, conservative commentator and Fox News contributor. Her book "American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party" (Crown Forum) was released in July 2011.