As in past years, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference is being preceded by fresh controversy over the American Conservative Union’s acceptance of gay organizations at the event.
Log Cabin Republicans National Executive Director Gregory T. Angelo said in a statement today that his group began negotiating with the ACU’s new leadership team in July about participation in the conference.
He said Log Cabin was first told that wouldn’t be possible because “Republican” was in the group’s name instead of “conservative,” and when they pointed out other GOP-branded organizations participate he says they were told Log Cabin isn’t “conservative enough.” The group then sent the ACU a list of their conservative policy positions, Angelo said, including Obamacare repeal and support for Second Amendment rights.
Angelo also noted that Log Cabin defended the free-speech rights of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who is being honored with an award at CPAC this year. “If anyone should be honored with a Freedom of Speech Award at this year’s CPAC, it should be Log Cabin Republicans,” he said, stressing they “are just as conservative as anyone else at CPAC — I dare say even more conservative than many; the only difference is that we are gay.”
ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp, who took the reins from Al Cardenas in June, told Metro Weekly that Log Cabin never formally applied for a sponsorship. “We do not bar any groups or individuals based on sexual orientation. Our standards for any group are the strength of their conservative principles,” Schlapp said. “All conservatives, including gay conservatives, are welcome to be at CPAC.”
“If the Log Cabin Republicans want to take a leadership role in the conservative movement, they need to start advocating for conservative policy solutions and siding with conservative candidates in primaries, even when it means taking on moderate Republicans,” he said. “We encourage them to do just that.”
GOProud tried to attain sponsor status for multiple years at CPAC, but was told they could only attend. In 2013, the Competitive Enterprise Institute used its sponsor status to invite gay conservatives to participate in a panel on the status of gay rights in the GOP.
Metro Weekly cited a December email from Angelo to ACU leaders asking to sponsor the event; he said he received no reply.
“The American Conservative Union has the right to invite or not invite whoever they want to the Conservative Political Action Conference, but they should be honest about the reasons why,” Angelo said in a statement today. “The ACU is fond of hiding behind a fig leaf stating gay people are welcome as guests, but the ability to buy a ticket to CPAC was never what our debate was about; indeed, I will be attending CPAC, as will hundreds of other Log Cabin Republicans members and supporters. Make no mistake: LCR is actively being prohibited from sponsoring CPAC.”
“For our organization, this has always been about contributing to CPAC as sponsors or in some recognized capacity. Time and again, when we showed the ACU that we met their criteria for sponsorship, the reasons for our exclusion changed,” he continued. “The only conclusion that can be made is that the organizers of CPAC do not feel gay people can be conservative—a position opposed by the thousands of Millennial CPAC attendees who have been asking Log Cabin Republicans for months if we would be participating at this year’s event. We owed it to them to explain why we are not.”