Gays win at conservative conference

CPAC Goes Gay

A gay GOP group wanted to co-sponsor the conservative confab. Christian right-wingers rebelled. Guess who won?

In the run-up to this week's Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing Christian groups were incensed when they learned that the annual gathering of conservative activists would be co-sponsored bya gay Republican organization called GOProud. A collection of powerful social conservative groups threatened to derail the entire event with a boycott—and lost.

The boycott attempt was led by Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy organization founded by the late Jerry Falwell. After hearing that GOProud would be an official CPAC co-sponsor and would host a booth in the conference's main exhibit hall, Barber wrote in an emai to conservatives around the countryl:

"I was disturbed to learn that CPAC is allowing the 'Republican' homosexual activist group GOProud to sponsor a booth at the 2010 conference. Among other things, GOProud advocates in favor of both 'gay marriage' and 'civil unions,' against pro-marriage constitutional amendments ; is pushing for the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and advocates in favor of federal 'partnership benefits' for homosexuals. This group is pushing a radical leftist agenda that is an affront to the GOP platform, conservatism and, most importantly, the Word of God."

CPAC ignored the threat, essentially calling the evangelicals' bluff. This gave the social conservatives a choice.  They could pull out of CPAC, which holds an informal poll of Republican presidential contenders. The straw poll is widely seen as an indicator of how possible candidates are playing with the conservative base. Or, they could show up and hang out with people they think are an "affront to God."

As it turned out, politics trumped God. On Thursday at Washington's Marriott Wardman hotel, representatives for both Liberty Counsel and GOProud were hosting booths in the same exhibit hall. The folks staffing the Liberty Counsel booth insisted their presence didn't mean they'd compromised their values. One young woman at the booth explained that Liberty Counsel's parent organization (Falwell's Liberty University School of Law) had yanked its financial support as a CPAC co-sponsor, as this would have forced the organization to join hands with a group that contravenes its mission. Apparently, paying the organizers in order to host an exhibit space alongside GOProud at the event didn't pose the same problem.

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