This boycott has threatened to upset the applecart at a time when conservatives seem to be cementing their stranglehold over the Republican Party. It also threatens to derail CPAC's efforts to get Sarah Palin to speak at the conference. The former Alaska Governor has not yet confirmed she will attend or speak.
I've written about the Log Cabin Republicans (until now the only gay caucus in the Republican Party) several times in the last 7 years. I started out calling them "abused spouses" for their blind support of Republicans despite the fact that Republican politicians, George W. Bush among them, repeatedly used the LGBT community as pejoratives and wedge issues. Eventually, the Log Cabins realized that obsequious behavior wasn't going to get them anywhere and they became more aggressive. With their aggressiveness, you started to hear about more gay staffers being tolerated in the GOP and the potential for some change down the road.
Apparently, this attempt by the Log Cabins to exert some influence in the GOP and stand by some principles has resulted in a backlash in the form of a rival Republican gay rights group that purports to be more conservative. More likely, you will see GOProud start off the way the Log Cabins started out i.e. being the Republican's doormat. This first sponsored event has them right on track.
GOProud has acceded to sponsoring CPAC without having any speakers being allowed to speak and simultaneously accepted being publicly backhanded in the press by CPAC's organizers. ThinkProgress reported on this on December 23rd:
David Keene, the head of CPAC's main organizing group, tried to calm the potential boycott by using a different tactic. In an e-mail to a right-wing radio host, Keene promised that GOProud would not have a speaking spot and that gay rights issues would not be "open to debate":
In his e-mail response, Keene admitted GOProud "has signed on as a CPAC co-sponsor, but will have no speakers and we told them that, in fact, since opposition to gay marriage, etc are consensus positions (if not unanimous) among conservatives, these topics are not open to debate." [...]
You would have to wonder why any activist group that purports to be attempting to further any issue would accept this kind of treatment by the party they have chosen as their own. Now I know I am going to get comments back to this article from GOProud and LCR members accusing the Democratic Party and President Obama of the same thing and in some ways they are right. I admit that I am embarrassed at how little progress has been made on the Gay rights front over the past 11 months.
I'll even go further than that and say that as a straight person, I cannot face my gay friends in the Democratic Party anymore I am so ashamed by how little has been done for them over the first year of this administration. I feel guilty that I am happy with the administration in most ways except of course with this glaring issue. But that still isn't remotely the same as how gays are treated in the Republican party. Pick any 20 Republican or Conservative groups at random and pick any 20 Democratic or Liberal groups at random and tell each that you would like to have a big gay rights representation at their next national meeting and let's see the reaction you get. Something tells me there will be a statistically significant difference in the amount of groups that are accepting of the gay rights groups between the two sets of organizations.
None of this matters to the social conservatives who normally attend CPAC. To them, CPAC has become hopelessly Liberal by accepting sponsorship from GOProud. Comments to Jim Robinson's article on Free Republic include many references by Freepers who are going to attend CPAC anyway and bring signs of protest against the GOProud participation.
All of this controversy has me looking forward to CPAC for the first time in my life. Conservative internecine fighting is more fun to watch then anything Hollywood produces. I might even buy a ticket and attend.