Dressed in a slinky black number, a glass of red wine swaying dangerously in one hand, the conservative TV pundit and former Dubya adviser Mary Matalin welcomed her audience of well-heeled gays and their allies to her Alexandria, Va., home. Matalin, who is married to the Democratic consultant James Carville, had offered to host the upstart conservative gay group GOProud for a February 'Party on the Potomac.' Among the allies were tax reform advocate Grover Norquist and new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart. Among the gays was Ken Mehlman, the young Republican operative who came out last year.
Introduced by Matalin as 'the smartest guy in the room,' Mehlman gave a short but considered speech in which he lionized Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater for changing the political culture of America. As a result, he said, people no longer based their vote on their religion or ethnicity, but on ideas . There was one exception: Gay voters were still treated as if 'the arbitrary characteristics' of their birth determined their political ideology.
A growing number of gays are determined to change that, from GOProud cofounder Christopher Barron, a chiseled PR consultant who voted for McCain in 2008, to porn producer-turned-conservative ink slinger Michael Lucas, a guest at another GOProud fund-raiser hosted last fall by Ann Coulter (Lucas bravely challenged her for telling gay jokes). That event was held at the home of billionaire Peter Thiel and included a cadre of young stewards wearing freedom is fabulous T-shirts.
For James Kirchick, a gay journalist who frequently writes conservative commentaries for The Washington Post and The Advocate, there's no contradiction in being gay and a Republican. 'You don't choose your sexuality, but you do choose how to think about the world,' he says. 'I don't see why someone who is gay can't also be a conservative.'
As gays feel more comfortable in the world, it may be inevitable that we follow the historic trajectory of other minorities increasingly attracted to Republican positions, but with latest polls showing a majority of Americans in support of gay marriage, the Republican scramble to defend DOMA looks shortsighted and anachronistic. And Ann Coulter is not doing anything to help change that.