WASHINGTON -- An annual standoff between a Republican gay rights advocacy group and the organizers of a top conservative gathering reached a curious détente on Monday.
After complaining about their exclusion from the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Log Cabin Republicans are now set to participate in a Saturday panel on Russia and Vladimir Putin. The arrangement came after two days of discussions between the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, and the advocacy group, which had earlier aired its disgust over not being named an official sponsor.
“In years past, in addition to sponsorship, we have asked the ACU about the potential for LCR representation on a CPAC panel,” said Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. “Obviously, not being allowed to sponsor this year's event is disappointing, but I'm not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good. This panel is an important opportunity to show LCR is more than just 'the gay marriage Republicans,' and to bring a unique perspective to CPAC not represented anywhere else during this year’s conference.”
The Log Cabin Republicans, as Angelo notes, go to great lengths to present themselves as a conservative group that supports gay rights, rather than a pro-gay rights group that just happens to be conservative. So the fact that it has been asked to participate in the foreign policy panel -- titled "Putin's Russia: A New Cold War?" -- may not be a complete head-scratcher.
But it also doesn’t completely wipe away the broader perception of marginalization at that seems to arise every year when CPAC denies pro-gay rights groups the right to become co-sponsors. Adding the Log Cabin Republicans to a foreign policy panel set to take place on the last day of the conference -- when the crowd has dwindled and the press has stopped paying attention -- doesn’t reflect well on where LGBT issues stand within the conservative movement.
“The ACU has tried to find a way to kind of include gay conservatives without totally including them ever since they caved to the anti-gay bigots in their coalition and kicked out GOProud in 2011,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, the former executive director of that group, which is now defunct. “All you have to do is read the Bible to know that there is not a half-way solution to questions of right and wrong, splitting the baby never works. Until they make things totally right, the message is the same and bigotry continues to stain the conservative movement.”
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