If you told a gay political activist last week that Tom Coburn would coauthor an article with the Chairman of an organization that, while conservative, is explicit in its promotion of the dread "gay agenda," they'd look at you pretty queerly. But here is Coburn doing exactly that, and in the digital pages of the country's leading gay news magazine no less (full disclosure: I am a contributing writer to the Advocate).
If the President of the United States can "engage" with all manner of tyrants and petty thugs, then surely a small group of enterprising homocons can co-sign an op-ed with a conservative Senator from Oklahoma who, not so long ago, was railing against the "gay agenda." What Coburn may or may not realize is that he's just become an unwitting cog in it.
Tom Coburn is many things -- including an egregious homophobe -- but he is not an idiot. He is completely aware that there are elements of the gay community who agree with some of his economic positions -- GOProud is not breaking any news to him and he is no "unwitting cog." With this op-ed, Coburn gets to 1) attack health care reform, 2) attack Ryan White Care Act funding, which he has been doing since his days in the House, and 3) bring along a gay political group in an attack on the government program that has done more for HIV/AIDS care (and by extension for gay men with HIV/AIDS) than anything else in this county. And it costs Coburn nothing; his standing with social conservatives in the Republican party is strong enough that he can hang out with the gays all he wants because they know he's not going to change his core values.
Kirchick points out that when GOProud formed earlier this year, "disgruntled Log Cabinites...warned that enemies of gay rights would use the organization as a convenient cover for their anti-gay political agenda." I'd say this op-ed proves them right. If the goal is to make the Republican party a welcoming place for gays -- or, more realistically, to denature the homophobia of the party to the point where it is no longer as consistent or effective in attacking LGBT rights and people -- then there are other factions of the Republican coalition to focus on.