By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com June 03 2014 4:16 PM ET
After five years in the often precarious space of being a gay conservative group, LGBT Republican organization GOProud is ceasing operations, according to a series of reports at Bilerico.
Bilerico reporter Andrew Markle initially reported that GOProud was shuttering on Sunday, and following initial denials on social media from members of the group, key organizers confirmed to Bilerico founder Bil Browning Monday that the group is indeed planning to close up shop.
GOProud executive director Matthew Bechstein told Browning that the mixed messages were an attempt to calm members and stave off any problems with fundraising efforts.
Nevertheless, "We're leaving GOProud behind and re-branding the chapters," Bechstein told Bilerico.
"The fact is, in order to continue promoting the conservative principles upon which this organization was founded, change is needed," Bechstein wrote in an email to Bilerico. "One of the changes under discussion is a switch to a different legal type of organization — basic paperwork that requires dissolution and immediate subsequent reorganization. Technically, as some argue, this would be a legal closure. … But if it were to actually happen, it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization."
Bilerico, however, reports that the government requirement Bechstein cites does not actually exist, explaining that the group is being dissolved and will have to file entirely new paperwork if it reorganizes as a different entity. If, as Bechstein contends, the group intends to focus on grassroots online activism, it would not be required to file legal paperwork, but if it accepts financial donations, it will be required to formally register with the government, according to Browning.
The organization, founded in 2009, has seen its share of controversy, from outside criticism and within its own ranks. Last year, GOProud founder Jimmy LaSalvia left the organization and the Republican Party, slamming GOP leaders in an interview with The Advocate's editorial director, Lucas Grindley.
GOProud's cofounder, Chris Barron, also left the organization last year, after his group was repeatedly refused participation in the Conservative Political Action Conference, then offered admittance in a reportedly diminished capacity. Barron offered a similar critique on his Twitter account Sunday, when news first broke that the group was closing:
Current @goproud leadership ran off their board, trashed their founders and sold out on CPAC. They won't be missed.
— Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) June 1, 2014