Gay GOP group GOProud chairman Christopher Barron on Thursday defended his group's right to participate in February's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). GOProud's co-sponsorship of the event has enraged three socially conservative groups.

The three-day convention to be held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC will feature such anti-gay figures as media personality Ann Coulter, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

The political arm of the Family Research Council, FRC Action, Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have announced they won't attend the event because of the presence of the gay Republican group.

When asked by MSNBC The Ed Show guest host Cenk Uygur, “Why on God's green Earth are you even a Republican?” Barron insisted the conservative movement accepted – even welcomed – gay Republicans.

“Because I believe in free markets, because I believe in a strong defense, because I believe in the power of the individual,” Barron responded. “That's why I'm a conservative Republican.”

“I get that,” Uygur said, “But what I don't get is how you can with a good conscious vote for a party that does not like you.”

When Barron insisted the conservative movement was united and winning, Uygur interrupted with “No you're not.”

“What I'm telling you right now is that the conservative movement is absolutely welcoming to gay people,” Barron said. “I can tell you right now, I have an easier time being openly gay with the conservatives than I do being a conservative with other gay people. That's the truth. You might not like it but it doesn't change reality.”

“You gotta wake up, man. In 2004 they ran the whole national campaign against hating you. In 2006, they ran the whole national campaign against hating you,” Uygur added.

“I am wide awake,” Barron interrupted, “and the conservative movement [is] winning and we are a proud part of that movement.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page.)

On Wednesday, sex advice columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage called GOProud a “little gay window dressing.”