Written by Dahlia Grossman-Heinze
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year by once again excluding prominent gay Republican groups GOProud and the Log Cabin Republicans—and some speakers are pulling out in protest.
Both GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans have been sponsors in the past, but have been barred from sponsoring the 2013 event. Conservative political commentator S.E. Cupp recently announced that she won’t be speaking at CPAC until it welcomes groups that advocate for gay marriage.
“In the interest of inclusion, it strikes me that now more than ever we should be celebrating our intellectual diversity, not suppressing it,” Cupp said. ”It seems like we’re hardly in a position to be marginalizing any kinds of conservatives, let alone ones who have been so courageous in the face of adversity.” Cupp pointed out that prominent Republicans, including four former governors, have signed a brief arguing for the constitutional right of gay people to marry.
More-progressive commentator Chris Hayes was also invited to speak at CPAC, but said on the air that he would not accept the invitation unless GOProud was included.Because both Cupp and Hayes work for MSNBC, many conservatives will dismiss these walkouts, but CPAC organizers still have to grapple with the fact that marriage equality enjoys majority support in the United States.
The California proposition that prevents the state from recognizing same-sex marriages should be found unconstitutional, the Justice Department said in recent brief that thrilled gay marriage advocates and 62 percent of young people believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. By excluding and further alienating young voters and conservative gay people, CPAC isn’t doing itself any favors.
Organizers face still more challenges connecting with mainstream America: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t been invited to speak, either. “If you can’t accept Chris Christie as a conservative then you’re really just asking for another election loss in 2016 and it makes us look crazy in the eyes of the American people,” U.S. Rep. Peter King said.
Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, says it’s because the governor hasn’t held conservative positions recently. Specifically, Christie praised President Obama’s response to Sandy, supported a $60 billion Sandy relief bill, and funded a temporary expansion of Medicaid in New Jersey.
These exclusions make the Republican base even smaller and give a voice to only a portion of the Republican party. Rather than allowing conservatives to make up their own minds about social issues or the Republican party’s role in bipartisanship, CPAC is trying to create the platform for the Republican party and when members don’t follow suit, kicking them out.
CPAC will be held March 14-16 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland near Washington. Speakers will include Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
This post was originally published by Campus Progress.
Photo: New Jersey National Guard/flickr