Gay Conservatives Not Abandoning Anti-Gay Pol

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday June 11, 2011

Herman Cain, a Republican contender for the nomination in next year's presidential race, declared during a June 8 CBS News interview that being gays is a "choice," and, moreover, a "sin."

But the leader of a gay conservative group has declared that even though he does not agree with Cain's statement, neither will he distance himself from the presidential contender.

"I believe homosexuality is a sin because I'm a Bible-believing Christian," Cain said, upon being asked his opinion. "But I know that some people make that choice. That's their choice. And I believe it is a choice," Cain added.

Gays and lesbians generally do not experience their feelings of attraction and romantic attachment to others of the same gender as a matter of "choice," but rather as a naturally occurring part of their innate identity. Some gays attempt to "convert" to heterosexuality by means of dubious "cures," but mental health professionals warn that the damage gays suffer from programs touting so-called "reparative therapy" can far exceed any gains.

The chairman of gay conservative organization GOProud, Christopher Barron, echoed the sentiments of many gays when he blogged on the matter at his site Red Barron on June 9.

"Am I pleased with this answer?" wrote Barron. "No. Do I agree with Mr. Cain? No. I know being gay isn't a choice and I know it firsthand. I also do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. Does any of this change how I feel about Herman Cain? Not at all.

"The bottom line is that Herman Cain's personal position on whether being gay is a sin or a choice has no bearing on whether the policies he supports would be good for gay and lesbian Americans," added Barron.

The GOPRoud chairman went on to write, "Herman Cain supports repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a market based solution that would lower costs across the system, empower individuals and increase the gay people's access to insurance policies that offer domestic partner benefits."

Barron also defended Cain on the grounds of his views on Muslim extremism.

"Herman Cain hasn't been shy about speaking out about the need to confront and stop the spread of radical Islam -- a barbaric ideology that brutalizes women, religious minorities and gays," Barron wrote.

"For the gay left none of this will matter," added the GOProud leader. "All that matters is the group hug. For the gay left, it isn't important whether the policies pursued by a candidate or a party actually improve the lives of gay people, all that matters is that they get the pat on the head -- the assurance that they are ok.

"I don't need the group hug, nor do I need affirmation from the government that I am ok. What I need is a President and a Congress that will pursue policies that will make life better for me and my family," Barron stated.

Mediaite covered Cain's controversial statements in a June 9 article, noting that Cain "has mostly made a name for himself by promising a healthy economy and a strong pro-Israel foreign policy," and calling him a "surprisingly competitive 2012 Republican [presidential] candidate."

The article noted that Cain has impressed conservatives, raising his profile, and his credentials, in a debate broadcast by Fox News.

"Up until this morning, it was safe to say that Cain had a friendly symbiotic relationship with gay conservatives," the Mediaite article said, going on to note, "For Barron, it appears, what President Cain would do in practice is far more important than what he might say in theory.

"Part of the reason Cain can receive this sort of treatment after said comments compared to, say, Rick Santorum, is that Cain never promised to be a social libertarian, but until now he also never gave the impression he judged others for their lifestyles," the article added, going on to say that Cain's website does not address GLBT issues.

"He has also said that he has nothing against appointing qualified openly gay people to his Cabinet," the article said. Moreover, "He responds that it is a 'sin' [to be gay] because the Bible says so, but he never insists that everyone should be forced to follow the rules of the Bible like he does."

Mediaite appeared to adopt a stance not unlike Barron's, defending Cain as a person who spoke not out of malice or contempt for gays, but rather someone who does not understand gays and needs only to be educated.

"Herman Cain is not alone in his misconceptions," Mediaite pointed out. "While the term has grown to be somewhat of a punchline, the moment is ripe for a 'teachable moment' -- a GOProud-hosted event about perceptions of homosexuality and true tolerance of the LGBT condition, with special guest Herman Cain."

Blogger Robert Stacy McCain, in a June 9 posting at The Other McCain, analyzed the situation in terms of the impact Cain's statement might have on his campaign prospects, and concluded that the candidate would lose little, if any, momentum over his remarks.

"Remember that Iowa is the No. 1 objective for Team Herman," wrote McCain. "If he were to win the Iowa caucuses, that would be a political earthquake, and his campaign leadership really believes that they can make that happen with a volunteer-based grassroots effort.

"So, consider what Cain said, and ask yourself: Is this likely to offend the typical grassroots conservative Republican in Iowa?" McCain continued. "Nope. Not even a blip on the radar."

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Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.