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Conservatives Call to Keep DADT

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Leaders of antigay groups, including Center for Military Readiness president Elaine Donnelly (pictured), will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon to call for maintaining the military's antigay "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The groups, coming together as the Military Culture Coalition, will meet with reporters at 2 p.m. at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., the host hotel of the Conservative Political Action Conference, running Thursday through Saturday. The press conference is not a CPAC event, but many of the participants are also involved in the gathering of prominent conservatives.

The press conference is tied to the release of a report, "To Keep Our Honor Clean: Why We Must Oppose the Homosexual Agenda for the Military," published Wednesday by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, a right-wing Catholic group. The report cites much of Donnelly's testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 2008 and also calls homosexuality a "vice" that "violates natural law" and claims that allowing gays to serve openly in the military will increase the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among the troops. "Inclusion of this deathstyle in our Armed Forces is a dangerous proposition, indeed," says the study, available on the organization's website.

Joining Donnelly at the press conference, according to information obtained by People for the American Way's Right Wing Watch blog, will be Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, David Keene of the American Conservative Union (whose foundation hosts CPAC), Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel and Liberty University School of Law, Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund, and retired admiral James A. "Ace" Lyons of Flag and General Officers for the Military. Leaders from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property and other conservative groups, including Eagle Forum and the American Family Association, are supporting the effort.

CPAC itself will feature a variety of panel discussions along with individual speakers including pundits Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Monica Crowley, and George F. Will and politicians John Ashcroft, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Along with its substantial antigay presence, the event will have a gay presence, as gay conservative group GOProud is one of CPAC's many cosponsors. GOProud will have an exhibit booth, and its executive director, Jimmy LaSalvia, will be on a panel Saturday morning on "Using Technology to Mobilize Conservatives."

GOProud's sponsorship of CPAC led some conservatives to threaten a boycott of the event, but no mass boycott has emerged. Liberty University School of Law withdrew as a cosponsor, but its affiliated legal group Liberty Counsel is still scheduled to have an exhibit booth at the conference.

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