According to articles in the Washington Independent and the right-wing World Net Daily site, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America have refused to participate in the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. CPAC is an annual event hosted by the American Conservative Union, a conservative organization founded in 1964.
According to both articles, Tom McClusky, senior vice president of FRC Action cited CPAC's "financial mismanagement" and neglect of "conservative principles" as the impetus behind FRC's decision. Concerned Women for America's president Penny Nance stated that her organization refuses to participate because of the presence of GOProud, an LGBT Republican group.
These two dissenting organizations are hardly alone. Several other right-wing organizations -- American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage -- have also refused to participate in the 2011 CPAC because of GOProud. The DV8 has a rundown of the above groups, which I encourage readers to check out. American Principles Project spearheaded the boycott of CPAC back in November over GOProud's participation, according to an article at World Net Daily. (A coalition letter sent to the American Conservative Union is available at www[dot]americanprinciplesproject[dot]org/blogs/cpac-coalition-letter.html)
The debate over LGBT issues has penetrated even conservative ranks, as disagreements smolder between anti-gay hard-liners and conservatives who are at least willing to hear LGBT people out. I predict that the fissure between these two camps will widen over time, as support for LGBT rights becomes more mainstream.
Don't get me wrong. CPAC remains a staunchly right-wing event, and I have no illusions about their unpalatable views on other issues. Among the dozens of participating organizations at CPAC are the John Birch Society, Christians United for Israel, Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, and the anti-abortion Americans United for Life, which says volumes about CPAC's political leanings. Still, the fact that an LGBT group is participating this event -- and that its presence is fomenting dissension in the right-wing ranks -- is a fascinating development.
As a side note, I plan to attend the 2011 CPAC event in February, barring any snowstorms. Rest assured, I'll share all the details of my foray afterwards, if the weather permits me to attend. CPAC might be allowing an LGBT group at the table, but it remains a right-wing event, with Religious Right groups among its participants.
To read additional commentary, visit these links.
Right Wing Watch: Family Research Council and Concerned Women For America pull out of CPAC, Religious Right Boycott Gains Momentum
Right Wing Watch: Farah: “Purge” the Conservative Movement of Gays and Gay-Rights Supporters
The DV8: Hate Groups Pull Out of CPAC
Truth Wins Out: Anti-Gay Bigots Throwing Temper Tantrum, Refusing to Go to CPAC
Think Progress: Right-Wing Groups Abandon Conservative Forum For Inviting Gay Conservatives To Participate
Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine: Boycotts vs. Public Debate