At a Tea Party Express rally on Saturday in Lansing, Mich., someone wearing an “official sponsor” button was selling “Straight Pride” T-shirts. The Tea Party gets a portion of sales proceeds from official sponsors.
Gay rights supporters expressed concern and outrage over the T-shirts, noting that the “Straight Pride” message is similar to the “White Pride” slogan embraced by racist groups who oppose equality for many in the rainbow community, such as blacks, Asians, Latinos and LGBT people.
“It’s like white supremacy,” Penny Gardner, president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, told The Michigan Messenger. “It’s as if they are saying the idea of supremacy is somehow the American way. The American way is about equality, and equality is all we’re looking for.”
David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan, expressed his dismay to the Messenger.
“It sends a message that this is a cause for a certain group of people,” Holtz said. “That group is older white people, straight apparently. It sends the message that if you are not in the group, you really aren’t welcome.
“What’s troubling is the idea they are getting support and clearly making money off a vendor who is making money off discrimination against gay and lesbian people,” Holtz said. “And they think that’s OK. That’s what’s troubling.”
In recent weeks, the Tea Party has made headlines for protests that have turned ugly. One protest at the Capitol became notorious for hate speech against blacks and gays. The Tea Party has also embraced organizations such as the Family Research Council, which raises millions of dollars each year by demonizing abortion rights and gay marriage.