A Colorado Christian college sponsoring a conservative political gathering has made it clear one type of conservative isn't welcome, disinviting the state chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.
The sponsors, Colorado Christian University and its think tank, the Centennial Institute, this week told the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans the group can't have a booth at the Western Conservative Summit, set for June 26-28 in Denver, and returned the $250 fee Log Cabin paid, The Denver Post reports.
Members of Log Cabin "advocate contrary to our agenda and our core beliefs," summit chairman and institute director John Andrews told the Post Wednesday. "The Log Cabin Republicans exists to redefine the family," he continued. "Log Cabin Republicans think gay marriage should be the law of the land, and Colorado Christian University doesn't believe it should be."
A group called the Center Right Coalition had invited the Colorado Log Cabin Republicans chapter to participate in the summit at a discount rate, Log Cabin spokesman Alexander Hornaday told the Post. Now summit sponsors say that Log Cabin members are welcome to attend the event as individuals, but the organization can't have an official presence as an exhibitor or advertiser.
Hornaday and others said the exclusion of the LGBT group sends the wrong message, especially to young conservatives, who increasingly support marriage equality and LGBT rights generally. "It's just heartbreaking some of these older guard in the movement don't see that," he told the Post.
"Young people especially want to see a robust political debate, and this disinvitation is the exact opposite of that," added Michael Carr, secretary of the Colorado Log Cabin chapter and a former state Senate candidate. "Being perceived as antigay turns young people off even more than it does the general public." He said the rejection "is a pretty common issue we face. They'll take our money but want us in the closet."
A few years ago, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference rejected the now-defunct gay conservative group GOProud as a conference cosponsor, after some other groups had objected to GOProud's presence in previous years.
The Western Conservative Summit is expected to draw several Republican presidential hopefuls, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, retired surgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, according to the event's website. Organizers told the Post no speakers have backed out so far because of the Log Cabin exclusion.
Walker was traveling in Europe and unavailable for comment, but the Human Rights Campaign called on him to cancel his appearance at the summit. "As a potential candidate, Gov. Walker should lead by example and tell the organizers that he will pull out of this event unless they allow equal access to LGBT Republicans," said Fred Sainz, HRC vice president of communications in a statement.