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February 2010 Cover
February 2010 Cover

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February 2010 Email this to a friend
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GOP gays dissed at conference

By Joseph Erbentraut

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When GOProud, a national organization of gay conservatives, announced its co-sponsorship of the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC, the group anticipated their news would be welcomed by the gay community as a positive move toward building ties with social conservatives.
But instead, the gay blogosphere exploded with news that GOProud would not be allowed to speak at the conference, seemingly muzzled in response to a call for a boycott by some right-wing leaders, including the Liberty Counsel.
GOProud was formed last year by a group of gays who felt that Log Cabin Republicans was too moderate.
According to the conference's organizers, gay rights issues would not be discussed because of the "consensus positions" held against them by the majority of co-sponsors, which include anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family.
"Some of these issues draw significant support on both sides of the question from the broad movement and these we often debate at CPAC," said organizer David Keene, "while others like abortion are consensus positions and while we accept those who differ from the consensus, we see no reason for further debate. Gay issues fall within this category."
In response to the criticism, Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, claims speaking in the conference was never discussed as a condition of co-sponsorship. Further, he says conference organizers had decided not to include a gay marriage forum on the weekend's agenda prior to GOProud's signing on.
"The bottom line is that we are a sponsor and we get all the benefits of any other sponsor at our level," LaSalvia explained. "I think it's important for us to be there and have the opportunity to talk to people about the issues that are important to us."

Author Profile:  Joseph Erbentraut

Joseph Erbentraut is a Wisconsin-born freelance writer and editor currently living in Chicago. His articles on politics, music and culture have been featured in the Village Voice and other publications. He also blogs at Chicagoist.

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