It's not all that surprising that, in the wake of Rick Perry's much-maligned anti-gay ad the other day, the gay conservative group GOProud ended up at the center of the ensuing media storm, fielding requests from reporters left and right. Except it seems that the group's director and chairman (inadvertently, they claim) created a gay-bashing brouhaha of their own by letting slip the true sexual orientation of Tony Fabrizio, a top strategist on the governor's presidential campaign. In an e-mail to the rest of the board — acquired by the Daily Caller — GOProud leaders Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSavlia defended themselves, basically by claiming that Fabrizio's in-or-out status wasn't exactly a closely held secret.
Both Jimmy and I have known Tony for years and have known that he was gay for years. Multiple media outlets contacted us after the Perry “Strong” ad debuted asking our opinion of Fabrizio’s role in the campaign given the anti-gay nature of the ad. Every news outlet that called asked our opinion of a gay man being a part of this campaign’s leadership. (Emphasis added.)
As we were responding to these inquiries it never occurred to us that he wasn’t out. We would never intentionally out anyone, but quite honestly, we didn’t think we were outing anyone. If Tony Fabrizio was closeted it was news to both of us.We aren’t in the business of prying into other people’s personal lives, however if Tony Fabrizio wanted it to be a secret that he was gay he probably should have done a better job of letting other people know it was supposed to be a secret.
At least one board member, conservative muckraker (or yellow journalist, depending on your persuasion) Andrew Breitbart, was incensed enough over the incident to resign. The Daily Caller was also given an e-mail that Breitbart sent around explaining his decision.
On numerous occasions I have spoken with [GOProud leaders] Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron of the significant impact the practice of “outing” had in my evolution from the political left to the right. I was under the absolute impression that both agreed. I have a zero tolerance attitude toward the intentional infliction of vocational and family harm by divulging the details of an individual’s sexual orientation as a weapon of political destruction.
In an attempt to minimize fallout, GOProud did release a statement yesterday identifying the true homophobe(s) in this whole situation: Rick Perry and, by association, all those backing him and his increasingly evangelical bent.
Let us be crystal clear, however, Tony Fabrizio is not the victim here. Tony Fabrizio has lined his pockets for years with money from gay groups and is now one of the chief architects of a campaign strategy – not just an isolated television ad – intended to demonize gay people in order to score political points. Fabrizio claims he opposed the latest anti-gay Perry television ad. If Fabrizio really does oppose the ad and the broader strategy then the honorable and decent thing to do would be to resign from the campaign. Tony Fabrizio is no junior staffer he is one of the top campaign pollsters and strategists in the country.
Gay Republican politics certainly is anything but boring.