GOProud and CPAC. WTF? Just when you thought it couldn’t get more awkward…

By Stephen Richer

Ok.  The subject line has quite a few acronyms, so here’s some definitions:

GOProud:  Jimmy LaSalvia and Christopher Barron launched GOProud in April, 2009 as a spin off of Log Cabin Republicans.  GOProud supports gay conservatives, and it helps elect Republican candidates.  GOProud is now run by Ross Hemminger and Matt Bechstein (a writer for this blog).  Jimmy LaSalvia left the Republican about a month ago.  GOProud is a friend of this blog.

CPAC:  The Conservative Political Action Conference has united conservatives throughout the country for a weekend in Washington, D.C. since its founding in 1973.  The conference now attracts many thousands of young Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians, in addition to established politicians.  Aspiring Republican presidential candidates almost always pay a visit to CPAC.  The American Conservative Union operates CPAC.

CPAC has historically been a darling of the social conservative right.  And this meant gays and gay groups — even Republican ones — have always had a tenuous relationship with the conference.  GOProud made history in 2010 when it became the first gay group to secure a spot at CPAC.

But then CPAC reversed course.  I scratched my head about this in 2012 — why would CPAC move backwards on this when the crowd at CPAC keeps getting younger and more pro-equality?   And yet, CPAC kept GOProud out in 2012, and 2013.

Fast forward to yesterday (Wednesday).  National Journal reported that GOProud would once again be at CPAC.  Yay.  Right?  Nevermind the past.  Let’s move forward happily together.

Not so fast apparently.

The agreement between GOProud and CPAC for this year’s conference prompted GOProud co-founder Barron to sever his final tie with GOProud by quitting the GOProud board (LATimes).  Barron criticized the agreement — which gave GOProud only a limited presence at CPAC — and he took GOProud’s current leadership to task for allegedly caving to CPAC.

It’s completely and totally disingenuous to pawn off an unconditional surrender as a ‘compromise’” said Barron, who complained that he was not consulted about the decision as a board member.  (LATimes)

Barron also Tweeted:

GOProud calling their deal with CPAC a ” compromise” is like the Germans calling the Treaty of Versailles a ” compromise”

The controversy centers around GOProud’s planned status as a “guest” not as a “sponsor” with its own booth.  Bechstein and Hemminger insist that this was all they asked CPAC for, and that they were treated well by the folks at CPAC:

“We had asked to attend the conference, and have a presence there, and they were receptive to that ask,” Hemminger continued. “We did not ask to have a booth, nor did we ask to be a part of a panel. We simply wanted to have a presence on a level that worked best for us, and they were willing to accommodate that ask.”  (Metro Weekly)

Obviously Barron didn’t buy this story.  And neither did other GOProud founder, and recent Republican-dropout, LaSalvia:

LaSalvia, who has now decided that the Republican party isn’t really all that gay-friendly, says he wouldn’t have taken the offer.  ”I[f] was still running GOProud,” he told Slate’s Dave Weigel, “I wouldn’t accept a three-fifths invitation to CPAC.”  (Queerty)

So a win for the pro-equality movement?  Or a loss?  We’ll have to wait a bit to decide.  Either way, it should make for an awkward moment or two at CPAC.

Other reports on this topic:


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