A panel in support of gay marriage at a
conservative conference drew a standing room only crowd, while
opponents spoke to a nearly empty room.
At this weekend's Conservative
Political Action Conference (CPAC), a panel made up of marriage
equality foes moderated by Brian Brown, president of the National
Organization for Marriage (NOM), and Cleta Mitchell, a prominent
Republican lawyer and a board member of the American Conservative
Union (ACU), attracted little interest.
The opposite held true at a panel
moderated by conservatives who support marriage equality.
“We have tolerated something in our
movement for far too long: anti-gay bigotry,” Jimmy LaSalvia,
executive director of gay GOP group GOProud, told a packed room.
“Let me be clear, I do not believe that just because someone
opposes same-sex marriage that that automatically makes them a
homophobe. But there are, however, a few. There are a few in our
movement who just don't like gay people. In 2013, that just isn't
okay in America anyone.”
Chris Geidner commented on attendees' response to the panels:
“[A]lthough the Republican Party is nowhere near done with its
internal debate … the die is cast and the once incredible notion of
gay couples getting married has become a growing norm.”
CPAC this year refused to allow GOProud
to co-sponsor the event, which it had done previously for two years
in a row starting in 2010. And the pro-marriage equality panel was
smuggled into the conference through a loophole.