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Conservatives Tormented by Gay Elephants

April 12, 2009

When it comes to conservative politics, it's a very small world indeed. Here in the United States, Pastor Rick Warren canceled an Easter appearance on ABC's This Week after his comic reversal on Prop 8 produced a firestorm of criticism from his allies in the religious right. And while Politico Friday reported a split in the ever-shrinking ranks of gay Republicans, in Poland a conservative city councilor decried the existence of gay elephants altogether.
As the 2004 imbroglio over gay penguins in the Central Park Zoo showed, animal homosexuality seemingly bothers right-wing ideologues as much as its human counterpart. (While the Daily Show's Samantha Bee decried these "chum guzzlers," the Family Research Council's Paul Cameron declared, "If you believe that these are gay penguins, then you're buying the 'gay agenda.'") And this week in Poznan in western Poland, Michal Grzes of the right-wing Law and Justice Party attacked the supposed lifestyle choices of the city zoo's 10 year old elephant, Ninio:

"We didn't pay 37 million zlotys ($11 million) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there. We were supposed to have a herd, but as Ninio prefers male friends over females how will he produce offspring?"

Meanwhile back in Washington, another battle over gay elephants has broken out, this time within the ranks of the partisan pachyderms themselves. Christopher Barron, a former Log Cabin political director who broke with the group, announced the formation of a rival gay Republican group, GOPROUD. Noting that the Log Cabin Republicans are currently without full-time staff, Barron insisted, "It has simply moved way too far to the left and is basically indistinguishable from any other gay left organization." As Politico reported, the internecine conflict over slices of the ever-smaller pie of gay Republicans is a heated one:

The ideological battle has been playing out in the gay media and on some blogs for a while, spurred in part by the Blade's revelation that the Log Cabin Republicans' biggest backer is a prominent Democrat, Tim Gill. Their complaint, in general, is that Log Cabin has grown indistinguishable from left-leaning gay rights groups.
The blog GayPatriot has been making the case for a split and arguing that gay rights groups should make the case for same-sex marriage to a broader political spectrum.
Another issue, I'm told, is hate crimes: The Log Cabin Republicans back hate crimes legislation, which troubles many conservatives, straight and gay.

If these are dispiriting times for gay and lesbian Republicans, they are grimmer still for the culture warriors who would eject them from their party and the American community. James Dobson, the departing head of Focus on the Family, proclaimed the nation "absolutely awash in evil" while bemoaning a string of defeats in the culture war:

"And we are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all those battles, but God is in control and we are not going to give up now, right?"

As for Pastor Warren, the virulent Proposition 8 proponent validated by Barack Obama on Inauguration Day and at last summer's disastrous Saddleback Forum, he deep-sixed his discussion with George Stephanopolous because he is "sick with exhaustion." Of course, his fatigue is likely due to fending off his furious friends and angry allies.
While Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, called his turnabout on the California ballot initiative ending same-sex marriage "absolutely baffling," Reverend Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, proclaimed himself "extremely troubled." The same Mohler who just days ago fretted to Newsweek about the "End of Christian America" said of Warren's Prop 8 confusion on the Larry King Show:

"Whether he supports Proposition 8 now, after the fact, is overshadowed by the bizarre claim that he did not say what the evidence so clearly proves he said."

So while Americans worry about a financial crisis, mounting job losses, Somali pirates and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the raging right has a different - and ironic - set of priorities: gay elephants, tea bagging and finding M4M.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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