Several prominent social conservatives have bailed out of this year's CPAC convention because of the presence of a group of gay Republicans.

The three-day convention got started Thursday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC and will feature such anti-gay figures as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, media personality Ann Coulter, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Conservative media personality Glenn Beck is the event's keynote speaker.

Liberty University Law School, the Christian-based university founded by the late Jerry Falwell, backed out of the event after it was announced that the recently formed gay Republican group GOProud was a co-sponsor.

The group's leader, Jimmy LaSalvia, will participate in a panel discussion Saturday morning on using technology to mobilize conservatives.

A quick read of topics covered at the conference would lead one to believe the gay Republicans have walked into a den of lions. Anti-gay groups such as the Christian-based Focus on the Family Action, Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and the Catholic Advocate will speak on a range of social issues, including one panel titled Saving Freedom from the Enemies of our Values.

On the exhibition floor, the gay Republicans have set up shop just two booths down from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage.

“It's the ultimate Washington power grab to say let's have a federal constitutional amendment that will federalize the question of marriage,” Christopher Barron, chairman of GOProud, told CNN.

NOM offered a terse message via POLITICO's Ben Smith to the gay Republicans. “We have a message for GOProud on marriage: If you try to elect pro-gay marriage Republicans, we will Dede Scozzafava them. The majority of Americans, and the vast majority of Republicans, support marriage as the union of husband and wife, and NOM is here to make sure these voters and their voices are heard loud and clear,” the group said referring to a Republican lawmaker who supports gay marriage and was squeezed out by social conservatives last November from pursuing a New York Congressional seat.

“Who's the pansy at #CPAC10 ? - NOM can't even walk a few feet to deliver 'message',” GOProud sparred back on Twitter.

Among the criticisms lobbed at gay Republicans from gay Democrats, however, is their apparent contradiction on gay marriage. The group says it supports the right of gay and lesbians to marry. But gay Republican groups have previously endorsed anti-gay marriage candidates, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

CPAC ends Saturday.