Little birdies from all over the internets have been singing interesting music into my ear as the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, put on by the American Conservative Union, convenes this week.

What’s been notable about the conference from the LGBT point of view has been the drama about the participation of the gay conservative GOProud and the myriad social conservatives bailing out because of TEH GAY. It’s been quite hysterical for me (honestly, if I could have attended I would for the spectacle); following the songbirds’ trail of information about one of the movers and shakers that behind the trashing of GOProud as a participant at CPAC has been quite revealing about the possible motivation for the epic homophobia.

Most of you may not be too familiar with the name Cleta Mitchell. She moves in the highest circles of influence in the conservative sphere. As a partner in the powerful firm of Foley & Lardner, Mitchell has among her client base in DC social conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), who is one of the wingers boycotting CPAC because GOProud is there. She’s referred to by the Wall Street Journal as “the consigliere” when it comes to campaign finance law, embraced by “virtually all of the tea party candidates.

The campaign-finance lawyer is an Oklahoma transplant, Republican convert, and attack attorney of choice for tea-party stars, including Sharron Angle in Nevada; Christine O’Donnell in Delaware; Joe Miller in Alaska; Sen. Jim DeMint in South Carolina; Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania; Marco Rubio in Florida; and Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire.

…In a time when a federal campaign can’t be run without a lawyer, “I think you could argue she is the most important Washington conservative not in public office,” said conservative commentator George Will, a friend of Ms. Mitchell’s and frequent critic of campaign-finance law. “She’s armed and zealous.”

…Ms. Mitchell protects client files and won’t discuss her cases in front of the other partners at her law firm, Foley & Lardner LLP, some of whom have complained to the firm’s management about her causes, said Scott Fredericksen, D.C. managing partner at Foley. He said the clashes were “not surprising.”

I’m of the view that diversity means diversity,” he said.

More on that statement bolded above in a bit.

Cleta Mitchell has worked hard behind the scenes to make CPAC unwelcome for GOProud (as we all know, the hypocrites in the the conservative movement love the tortured, closeted homosexuals):

Social conservatives, including the National Organization for Marriage among others, staged a walk-out at a meeting of board members of the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to multiple board members, to protest CPAC’s decision to allow GOProud to join the event as more than just a vendor organization.

Those groups put enough pressure on the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, that officials put GOProud’s fate, along with that of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, up for a vote. Results made available to board members on Wednesday showed the board voted to allow both groups to continue their affiliation with CPAC.

That could send socially conservative groups packing and cause a rift in the CPAC board. GOProud has its enemies on the board of directors. Board member Cleta Mitchell is stridently opposed to allowing the gay group to participate and has led the charge to kick them out of the event, according to other board members.

Why Cleta has a problem with TEH GAY.

Why is Mitchell so strident about this? Why the fixation on GOProud’s participation in CPAC? Well, the public record reveals, ahem, a possible factor and motivation in Mitchell’s crusade. Back in the 80s, she was known as State Rep. Cleta Deatherage (D-Norman). She married a gentleman named Duane Draper and they later divorced.

State Rep. Cleta Deatherage, D-Norman , has been granted a divorce from her husband of nine years, Duane Draper . Cleveland County District Judge Mike McDanel approved the divorce petition July 13, the day it was filed, allowing the couple to waive the normal 10-day waiting period for divorces involving only property settlement. Deatherage cited incompatibility as grounds for the divorce.

There was a reason for that incompatibility – Draper was gay.

How do we know this? Draper went on to become director of AIDS programming at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where he was well-known and when he passed away in February of 1991, his partner was mentioned in the obituary in the Boston Globe.

Duane Draper, director of AIDS programs for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, died of AIDS Monday night at his home in Brookline. He was 43.

A former prosecutor in his native Oklahoma, Mr. Draper left a teaching fellowship at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1987 to become AIDS policy coordinator for the state’s Executive Office of Human Services. A year later he moved to the public health AIDS job.

His performance prompted the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts to give Mr. Draper its 1991 recognition award.

…He leaves his parents, Ellsworth and Clairene Draper of Washington, Okla.; two brothers, Conrad of Yelm, Wash., and Craig of Norman; a sister, Renee Wiggins of Norman; and his companion, Gary Leuschner of Brookline.

I don’t really have a dog in this hunt other than to say that this bit of information is just another reminder that the personal issues of the closet wreak havoc on people; it can turn and twist average people into believing that the entire LGBT community should be punished when a marriage didn’t work out because of someone discovering they are gay. Mitchell, in her private thoughts and memories has obviously suffered from that time; no one deserves to be hurt by the closet — however, it is truly sad that all she sees is red when GOProud is invited to the table at CPAC.

And, in light of this information, what’s truly unseemly about Mitchell’s views about the participation of a gay organization at CPAC is that she is a partner in a law firm, Foley & Lardner, that has an outstanding diversity policy.

Foley is fully invested in establishing an environment that attracts and sustains diversity of gender, ethnicity, and religion, and is supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) attorneys.

Because a strong and effective diversity program is one of the highest priorities of our firm, our Chairman and CEO named a Chief Diversity Partner to help further our efforts and our success. Our Chief Diversity Partner, Maureen McGinnity, personifies the importance we place on our diversity initiative. Maureen brings the highest level of respect and authority to our diversity initiative, and will serve as a catalyst for and a leader in improving our diversity.

Maureen, in conjunction with our firm’s management, has defined our diversity mission as follows:

To be the law firm that is open and inclusive to, provides mentoring and training opportunities for, and maintains a barrier-free workplace that supports the bias-free promotion of all individuals.

Why would Foley & Lardner want to associate itself with such strident, biased views on diversity?  It’s mind-boggling that Mitchell’s very public anti-gay fervor is tolerated at Foley & Lardner, but I suppose that’s not a matter they’d prefer to discuss. And I’m sure Cleta isn’t interested in talking about it either.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding