Gay Group's Sponsorship Of CPAC Leads Some To Boycott GOProud, a group that represents gay conservatives, is on the list of co-sponsors for this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Now Liberty Counsel and other groups that focus on social issues are boycotting the event.
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Groups Skip Conservative Gathering Over Gay Sponsor

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Groups Skip Conservative Gathering Over Gay Sponsor

Groups Skip Conservative Gathering Over Gay Sponsor

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: The CPAC conference has a list of well over a hundred co-sponsors. They include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, the National Rifle Association, and Americans for Tax Reform. But this year the list also includes a two-year-old group called GOProud, founded by gay conservatives - among them, Jimmy LaSalvia.

JIMMY LASALVIA: CPAC is the preeminent gathering of conservatives annually in this country, and GOProud has a strong conservative record. You know, I'd put our conservative credentials up against anyone.

GONYEA: That is very much a minority opinion among conservatives, but CPAC founder David Keene of the American Conservative Union says that's not a reason to keep GOProud out as a sponsor.

DAVID KEENE: CPAC has always been open to every wing of the movement. We've got groups here that disagree with each other very strongly on all kinds of issues, from taxation to immigration to social issues to trade. This is the one time of the year where all of these various groups get together.

GONYEA: But GOProud's role has created controversy among conservative groups that focus on social issues. Some are boycotting this year's CPAC, including the Lynchburg, Virginia based Liberty Counsel, which in the past has been a co- sponsor of the event. Its chairman is Mathew Staver, who is also the dean of the law school at Liberty University.

MATHEW STAVER: One co-sponsor, in our view, should not undermine the views of another co-sponsor. We will certainly encourage out students to attend, from Liberty University, but we're not going to have our name as a co-sponsor along with an organization that actually works to undermine conservative values, in this case marriage.

GONYEA: Another group that won't be there is the Family Research Council, which says it has been concerned for years that CPAC has pushed social and cultural issues into the background. Tom McClusky is that group's Vice President.

TOM MCCLUSKY: It's more that those in charge are looking for ways to squeeze out social conservatives from the movement, and GOProud is just another example of trying to do that.

GONYEA: GOProud's Jimmy LaSalvia, meanwhile, charges that those who've chosen not to participate in CPAC are not actually doing so over specific disagreement on the issues. He says it's about who GOProud represents.

LASALVIA: They're boycotting because we're gay. It's not just that they disagree on one issue or two issues. Our position on marriage is exactly the same as former Vice President Dick Cheney's, who was named conservative of the year last year.

GONYEA: Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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