CPAC Criticized for Gay Presence

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 17 2010 5:25 PM ET

Organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference are once again catching flak over the inclusion of gay group GOProud, Politico reports.

Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project, wrote an open letter this week to CPAC chair David Keene, saying Cannon’s organization has decided not to take part in the conference because of the planned participation of GOProud. He objected to GOProud’s support of marriage equality and its criticism of Republican senator Jim DeMint’s assertion that gay people should not be schoolteachers.

“We can only conclude that the organization’s purposes are fundamentally incompatible with a movement that has long embraced the ideals of family and faith in a thriving civil society,” wrote Cannon, whose group has Maggie Gallagher, a leading activist against marriage equality, on its board of directors.

GOProud chair Christopher Barron responded by e-mailing Politico, “Jim DeMint took a position on gay teachers contrary to the one taken by President Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago. If the choice is whether to stand with DeMint or Reagan — we will choose the Gipper every time.” Reagan had opposed a 1978 California ballot initiative that would have prevented gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s public schools; it was ultimately voted down.

GOProud, which this week signed on to a letter urging Republicans in Congress not to focus on social issues, was the subject of controversy over its participation in the 2010 CPAC, held in February. The law school of Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, withdrew as a cosponsor of the event because of GOProud’s presence. Some CPAC participants praised GOProud from the podium, while others condemned the group’s inclusion; one of the latter, youth activist Ryan Sorba, was heckled for doing so.

The 2011 conference will be held February 10-12 in Washington, D.C.