Gay Conservative Group GOProud Comes Out for Marriage Equality

Gay conservative group GOProud has never officially backed marriage equality, until today.

LasalviaChris Geidner reports:

"We support same-sex marriage, civil marriage," GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia said.

The move follows a decision by the GOProud board earlier this month to expand the group's mission to include state-level work. It also comes after, LaSalvia noted, the re-election of a president who supports same-sex couples' marriage rights, while some in the Republican Party are urging their party to reassess their position on the issue.

Since its founding in 2009, GOProud has always opposed the federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law a "federal power grab," but it avoided the underlying issue of marriage rights. In the course of a 285-word statement provided to BuzzFeed on "marriage and relationship recognition" being released publicly Friday, though, the group declares, "Where civil marriage is possible, we support civil marriage."

GOProud's Jimmy LaSalvia told Geidner that the group will be forming individual efforts in the states, and that is why they've decided to weigh in on the issue:

The group, which he said had nearly a $350,000 budget in 2012 that came from about 500 donors, is starting off by supporting the marriage equality bills in Illinois, Minnesota and Rhode Island. Asked about the bills, LaSalvia said the group support them, noting, "Where it is being considered and where it is possible, we support it and we're going to be there."

Here's the group's statement:

Since our founding, GOProud has worked exclusively on federal issues. Because marriage has been a state issue since the founding of our country, we have had no official position on marriage or relationship recognition. We have supported, and continue to support, the repeal of DOMA, and we oppose any effort to federalize marriage though a constitutional amendment. Now that GOProud's Board of Directors has voted to begin work on the state and local level, we believe it is important to lay out our principles when it comes to marriage and relationship recognition.

GOProud believes that stable, loving, committed relationships are the cornerstone of our society and should be protected and encouraged for all couples – including gay and lesbian couples. We believe that the decision about how to best do this is one that should be made at the state level and that these decisions are best made by the people directly or through their elected representatives – not by unelected judges.

Where civil marriage is possible, we support civil marriage. Where civil unions are possible, we support civil unions. Where domestic partner benefits are possible, we support domestic partner benefits. As federalists, we do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach on almost any issue and that includes relationship recognition for gay couples.

We are firmly committed to winning hearts and minds, which is why we understand that not everyone who doesn't support marriage for gay couples is automatically a bigot or homophobe. We understand that there are people of deep faith who may have religious objections to marriage. We respect those differences and believe that no church or religious institution should ever be force to solemnize a marriage that is against its teachings.

As you may recall, during the last election cycle LaSalvia called gay marriage a "distraction" issue as he made the media rounds pumping the group's support for Mitt Romney.