By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com December 14 2011 6:31 PM ET
The timing is awkward, but GOProud says Chris Barron's departure as its chairman is about expansion and not in reaction to fallout caused by outing a Rick Perry adviser to the media earlier this month.
The group announced today that as it seeks to expand its board, it will call on a plugged-in straight conservative woman to replace Barron as chairman of the board.
Lisa De Pasquale is the former head of the Conservative Political Action Conference, and she stuck by GOProud when CPAC was attacked by social conservatives in 2010 for including gay conservatives in the annual event — which always attracts the biggest names in the movement.
Barron will remain in his role as chief strategist and as a member of the board. Executive director Jimmy LaSalvia, who was also caught up in the controversy, stays in his role. They are the group's cofounders. “The day-to-day management of the organization will remain the same," De Pasquale said in a statement announcing the changes. "The board has 100% faith in the leadership of Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia."
Both were the subject of criticism after they attacked Perry pollster Tony Fabrizio for his involvement in a campaign that has gone decidedly antigay in its messaging. Perry aired a television commercial in Iowa that claims it’s unfair that gays can come out in the military while Christians supposedly must hide their beliefs during Christmas, and both Barron and LaSalvia called out Fabrizio for hypocrisy as a gay man promoting antigay messaging.
Both say they believed Fabrizio was out. But advisory board member Andrew Breitbart, the conservative website mogul, quit the group in response to what he described as an outing.
De Pasquale will take over as chair for six months with the mission of adding board members. And LaSalvia wouldn't be surprised if more straight allies take a role in the organization.
"One thing that we've found in the two and half years that we've been in existence is that almost as many straight conservatives are involved in GOProud as gay people," he told The Advocate. "And we have a lot of gay people — gay men and gay women — but we also have a lot of straight conservatives that have joined us, and so I think our board will reflect that."