Republican presidential hopeful Fred Karger says he's being excluded from an upcoming GOP forum in Iowa because he's gay.
Karger, a gay rights activist who founded the group Californians Against Hate, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, saying the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, sponsor of the forum scheduled for March 7, is in effect endorsing the 15 potential presidential candidates it did invite.
"The party of Abraham Lincoln should be inclusive and welcome all to discuss the important issues of today," said Karger at a new conference Friday. "As someone who has been actively involved in Republican politics my entire life and worked on nine presidential campaigns, including three as senior consultant to Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan I feel I deserve a seat at the table."
The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's president, Steve Scheffler, called Karger's complaint "specious and utterly without merit," saying his organization used objective criteria in selecting who to invite and is "in full compliance with federal campaign regulations governing such events."
Karger says this isn't the first time his group has battled with Scheffler, citing an e-mail he received last May. "You don't care about transparency--you and the radical homosexual community want to harass supporters of real marriage," wrote Scheffler. "Have you studied our past caucuses--you have no chance here in Iowa."
Karger is eyeing a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.