Many conservatives have come to GOProud’s defense after it was denied the ability to sponsor CPAC. I was one of them. The National Review‘s editorial board, Kurt Schlichter, Andrew Bair, and Jedediah Bila were some others. Yes, CPAC was involved in the inexcusable outing of Tony Fabrizio, a Rick Perry pollster, in response to the governor’s ad about gays in the military – but that was two years ago. It also didn’t help when Chris Barron, co-founder of GOProud, called ”CPAC board member Cleta Mitchell a ‘nasty little bigot.’”
However, these are petty squabbles compared to our ongoing struggle against the progressive left and their dependency agenda. While I still think GOProud should be allowed to sponsor the event in the future, they’re making it difficult for the powers that be to come to that conclusion. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a CPAC sponsor, had a panel called “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.” Of course, the Huffington Post was there to troll the event. A Republican slammed his own party over gays – it’s a must-see for the liberal blogs.
“I’m embarrassed to call myself a Republican right now,” Jimmy LaSaliva, co-founder and president of the gay conservative group GOProud, said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday. The gay Republican was referring to GOProud’s exclusion from participation at CPAC for a second year in a row, banned as an official sponsor.
At the packed panel, attended by younger CPAC members, including quite a few conservative gays and lesbians, conservative commentators and activists on the panel who support marriage equality, including CNN pundit Margaret Hoover and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, made the case for gay marriage as conservative value. Earlier in the day Senator Marco Rubio, criticized those who would call him a “bigot” for not supporting same-sex marriage, underscoring the tension the issue continues to cause among conservatives. LaSalvia, for his part, however, agreed with Rubio, making a similar statement during the panel discussion and getting applause from the audience
It’s truly about what people think conservatives think of gay people,” LaSalvia said in an interview on my SiriusXM radio program. “Kicking us out of CPAC doesn’t help. People aren’t going to vote for you if they think you hate their family and friends.”
“How do we have a winning coalition in the future, in a world that has gay people in every single family,” LaSalvia continued, a day before GOP Senator Rob Portman reversed his position and came out for marriage equality because his son had come out as gay. “It’s broader than marriage equality. It’s about, ‘Do you support my loved ones?’ I think that a lot of the establishment leaders are out of touch with America and with their own base. There are a few folks in the establishment that don’t like gay people.”
As Breitbart’s Kerry Picket reported yesterday, the ACU and GOProud have a ways to go in settling their differences. “The minute the check hit the ACU office, there were forces on the ACU board that sought to keep us from being a sponsor of CPAC because we’re gay,” said GOProud co-founder Jimmy LaSalvia. At the same time, saying your “ashamed” of being a Republican does nothing concerning ameliorating relations with the ACU board.
So, let’s have a ceasefire. The ACU should not exclude any organization, like GOProud, because they might be moderate on a SINGLE issue – and GOProud would make more inroads with the conservative movement by not saying they’re “ashamed” of it. The ACU needs to understand that groups with some different opinions foster the intellectual debates that keep our movement fresh and modern. It allows us to adapt our policy messaging and strategy to a changing political landscape. As for GOProud, be patient, and keep pressing your organization’s platform. They’re conservatives who support your cause, and it’s inevitable that you’ll be more widely accepted as younger conservatives take the reins. It wouldn’t surprise me if more panels hosted by more organizations at CPAC might – sadly– be part of the slow process to ending this distracting feud. However, if GOProud continues to slam fellow conservatives, they shouldn’t be surprised if they remain at the kids’ table.