Tea Party favorites Sharron Angle and Sarah Palin are okay with gay GOP group GOProud's presence at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention, which opened on Thursday.

GOProud's co-sponsorship of the event prompted social conservatives to boycott the event.

Several Republican lawmakers, including South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, and a smattering of socially conservative groups – the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), FRC Action and Concerned Women for America (CWA) – have joined the boycott.

During a Thursday appearance on MSNBC, Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay group Family Research Council (FRC) summed up the boycott this way: “As a co-sponsor, they're a part of setting the agenda. And it's hard to grasp the idea that those who are working on redefining marriage can sit at the same table and discuss strategy with those who are trying to promote and protect traditional marriage.”

But the gay Republican group does not actively lobby for greater rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, including marriage.

On Thursday, Angle, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada last fall, told The Huffington Post that she welcomed an open dialogue.

“I think that as Americans, we like the open forum of discussion,” Angle said. “That's what freedom of speech is, that's what freedom of assembly is – we have an assembly here of people coming together to exchange ideas – and I think that's what we like is the discourse and exchange of ideas. I am always in favor of freedom.”

“As far as the controversy, I think we don't back away from controversy, we discuss it,” she added.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin agreed, telling Fox News: “I don't have a problem with different, diverse groups that are involved in political discourse, and having a convention to talk about what the answers are to their problems that face America.”

She suggested that America is facing more pressing issues.

“People are losing their jobs; they're losing homes. We're still engaged in a war,” she said. “There are so many life-changing, life-and-death issues out there in front of us. You know, we'd better be concentrating on what is really important here and not going kind of tit-for-tat as people are positioning themselves for 2012.”