Monday, December 18, 2017
Politics

Homocon brings gay Republicans, but not Ann Coulter, to Ybor City's Honey Pot

TAMPA — The shirts said "freedom is fabulous." The souvenir key chains had shiny disco balls. The color scheme was pink, white and blue.

The fete rode the line between flashy fun and resolute message, buoyed by people who believed in their political party so much, they could deal with the things they didn't like. It was Homocon, supporting gay Republicans.

Hundreds of people of all persuasions came to the Honey Pot in Ybor City on Tuesday for the party thrown by GOProud. The group is the only gay Republican organization to endorse Mitt Romney, leaders said. They function on conservative values of free markets and limited government. They want to embrace the word "homocon," which they said is a put-down homosexual liberals use for homosexual conservatives.

"We set out to show that not all gay people are liberals and that not all straight conservatives are antigay homophobes," said Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director. GOProud has 10,000 members across the country, LaSalvia said, and as many as half may be straight.

There's that obvious question — why support a candidate who doesn't want you to get married? Most folks hanging at Homocon said things weren't perfect, but their identities were bigger than one thing. They didn't want to hide from being conservative.

"I'm a Republican and I'm gay and I care about issues like the economy and turning around the country," said Eddie Mehnert, a 27-year-old marketing guy from Miami. Mehnert is supporting Romney, but Ron Paul was his first choice. "It's important to show that the GOP is inclusive and to soften hearts and minds within the GOP. If we have hyper-inflation and the country goes to hell, then me being able to feed myself takes precedence."

The club was filled mostly with reporters at the start. Former congressman Mark Foley was there early, watching Ann Romney's speech on one of the club's flat screens and talking to reporters while organizers set up the space. Foley, whose political career ended after an email scandal with congressional pages, works in real estate now. His longtime partner died in March. Foley said sexual orientation matters less and less to most people in politics, or life.

"Most people don't care who their co-worker is, just that they have one . . ." he said. "I always hold out hope that the greater good and the higher calling of most people is to not be judgmental but to be tolerant."

MSNBC commentator S.E. Cupp showed up for a bit, as did activist Grover Norquist. Some eyes were turned toward the door on lookout for Ann Coulter. The controversial conservative spoke at the first Homocon gathering in 2010.

"Our folks love her," said LaSalvia. "Her response to our invitation was, 'Of course I'll do it. I'm the right-wing Judy Garland.' "

During that speech, Coulter gave reasons why gays shouldn't marry and said marriage wasn't a civil right. Still, rumors swirled through the Honey Pot all night Tuesday that Coulter might show up. And indeed, at 1 a.m. she dashed across the sidewalk outside the neighboring Ritz Ybor and climbed into a black SUV. Maybe she was going around back? Time ticked by. More confetti was dispensed, more drinks were poured and more Don't Stop Believin' was played. Coulter never showed her face.

The only speeches this time came from GOProud co-founders Christopher Barron and LaSalvia. They paid homage to late writer Andrew Breitbart and proclaimed Mitt Romney the right person to help all people, gays included.

"Marriage is important," said LaSalvia from a podium. "But before you can get married, you have to have a date. And everyone knows you can't get a date without a job."

   
Comments
National security strategy plan paints China, Russia as U.S. competitors

National security strategy plan paints China, Russia as U.S. competitors

WASHINGTON — A new U.S. national security strategy plan presents China and Russia as competitors that want to realign global power in their interests, potentially threatening the United States, Trump administration officials said Sunday.President Don...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Published: 12/17/17
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Published: 12/16/17
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17