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Over the past day, much has been made of the GOProud board’s decision to endorse Mitt Romney for president. The gay conservative group is known for being more conservative than Log Cabin Republicans and has often attracted attention with brash moves.
What wasn’t clear from the group’s release was how close the endorsement came to not happening at all. Or how little gay support it had from the board.
GOProud board member and executive director Jimmy LaSalvia noted in the press release the group’s disagreement with Romney’s support for the Federal Marriage Amendment but added, “The truth is that this election is too important to wait or to sit on the sidelines. We plan on spending every day between now and November working to make Obama a one term President.”
From Dan Savage to Pam Spaulding to Stonewall Democrats, voices on the left have ranged from apoplectic to dismissive about the gay conservative group’s decision. Savage went so far as to refer to the group as the “GOP’s house faggots” — which led to its own fallout.
In GOProud’s initial statement announcing the endorsement, it noted, “GOProud is the first and only organization representing gay Americans to endorse Governor Romney’s Presidential bid.”
What has not been noted thus far — because the vote was not public beyond a mention that two people voted no — is that only a bare majority of the board’s seven members at the time voted for the endorsement. What’s more, half of the board’s gay or lesbian members voted against endorsing Romney.
Of the seven GOProud board members, only four supported the endorsement. Only two gay or lesbian board members voted in favor: LaSalvia and Bruce Carroll.
The other two gay or lesbian board members voted against the endorsement, and two straight board members voted yes. One straight board member did not vote, LaSalvia tells Metro Weekly.
Chris Barron, the former board president and co-founder of GOProud, told Metro Weekly, “I voted no and one other board member voted no.” LaSalvia tells Metro Weekly that Jessica Lee, who is a lesbian, was the other vote against the endorsement.
In addition to LaSalvia, Bruce Carroll tells Metro Weekly that he voted yes; Board Chair Lisa De Pasquale, who is straight, tells Metro Weekly that she voted yes; and Bob Carlstrom, another board member who is straight, was described as a Romney supporter in The Wall Street Journal in the midst of the primaries. The final board member, Kathryn Serkes, is straight and the head of the Doctor Patient Medical Association and did not vote, LaSalvia confirms.
GOProud did add an eighth person to its board on the night of the vote, Dennis Duquette, who is gay, but he did not participate in the endorsement vote.
In the news release, Barron is quoted as saying, “While I voted to endorse Governor Gary Johnson, and will continue to personally support his campaign, I understand and respect the decision of the GOProud Board. I appreciate the thoughtfulness the Board of Directors of GOProud put into this decision.”
The news release’s opening description of the group states that it is “an organization of gay and straight Americans seeking to promote freedom by supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights.” Releases issued by the group before DePasquale came on as board chair had described the group as “the only national organization representing gay conservatives and their allies.”
LaSalvia echoed the more recent sentiment when asked about the lack of a majority of LGBT support for an endorsement, telling Metro Weekly this evening, “GOProud represents gay and straight conservatives. Every member of our board’s vote counts the same regardless of their sexual orientation. That’s the definition of equality.”
Despite the vote count, however, LaSalvia added, “At the end of the day, our board is united in our effort to defeat Barack Obama.”
[Photo: GOProud co-founders Christopher Barron, left, and Jimmy LaSalvia. (Photo by Todd Franson.)]
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