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
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.