NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – After the American Conservative Union (ACU) – the organization hosting the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference – denied GOProud the opportunity to be an official sponsor of CPAC and have a booth at the event, the Competitive Enterprise Institute invited the gay conservative group to participate in a panel.
The Thursday event titled “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet” featured GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, GOProud adviser Liz Mair, GOProud board member Margaret Hoover, and the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin making the conservative case for same-sex marriage.
LaSalvia opened the panel by delivering an account of the GOP’s attitude toward gay rights.
“There are a few in our movement who just don’t like gay people, and in 2013 that’s just not OK in America anymore,” said LaSalvia to the approximately one hundred people who attended the panel.
“People should be allowed to settle down, be monogamous, get married and be happy,” he said in arguing gay marriage is a conservative value.
The audience – younger CPAC members including quite a few conservative gays and lesbians – welcomed the panel’s message of tolerance and LaSalvia’s vision of expanding outreach and building a winning coalition across different groups.
“What brings us together are our shared principles and values. It’s not a hundred percent agreement on every single policy position; it’s our common vision of government – a government that puts freedom first. We can disagree on some specific policies and still understand that we’re bringing the same principles and values to situations,” said LaSalvia.