This is actually about more than Chris Hayes invitation to be on a CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) panel, and his refusal to do so unless the conservative LGBT group, GOProud, is invited. It should also include the fact that while GOProud isn’t welcomed, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre is.
CPAC, along with the Republican Party in general, is clearly struggling with how to adjust (or not) to a changing electorate.
Hayes explains what happened in My answer to the Conservative Political Action Conference. He received a “form letter invitation” he says, which “even paid me the odd compliment of calling me ‘one of America’s leading conservative voices.’” His initial thought was, he says, to accept.
As someone who attempts to convene discussions across various ideological boundaries, I have a special appreciation for CPAC’s willingness to invite someone with my politics to speak to the attendees.
But then he remembered CPAC’s refusal to include the conservative gay group, GOProud. Justin Snow explains that, at Metro Weekly:
Although GOProud participated in CPAC in 2010 and 2011, the group for gay conservatives was kicked out of the conference last year after former GOProud board president Chris Barron labeled conservative attorney Cleta Mitchell as a ‘nasty bigot’ and blamed her for the decision by the Heritage Foundation to remove itself from the conference over GOProud’s participation. Although Barron apologized, GOProud has not been invited back since.
With that in mind, Hayes made his decision.
… I wrote back to Al Cardenas who runs the ACU (American Conservative Union) in a letter … and asked whether the policy is still in effect. If it isn’t, I told him, I’m psyched to go and if it is, well, I’ll wait until it changes, which is, really, just a matter of time.
Snow adds this:
According to GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia, the group has had no communication with the American Conservative Union, which sponsors CPAC, since last year. While Hayes and GOProud may have little in common politically, LaSalvia said the group welcomes Hayes’s support.
‘We certainly disagree with Chris Hayes politically, but we appreciate his commentary on Saturday,” LaSalvia said in an email to Metro Weekly. ‘He was correct to state that we were kicked out of CPAC because of anti-gay bigotry.
According to Snow, Daniel Foster, National Review Online News Editor (emphasis added)
… joined with Hayes in calling for inclusion, writing that BOLD the conservative movement cannot afford to ignore shifting public opinion on gay issues and that gay voters should not automatically be considered Democrats.
The Log Cabin Republicans probably won’t be participating, either, Snow writes, quoting LCR Executive Director Gregory Angelo, who said they’d “not been approached” by CPAC organizers. Snow concludes: (emphasis added)
With changing attitudes toward LGBT issues, particularly among young voters, leaders from both organizations have argued that the Republican Party must evolve on LGBT issues if it wants to remain relevant in the political process.
Now, about Wayne LaPierre, and yet another indication of the challenges to Republicans in their coming to terms with a changing America. Gabe Ortiz, at AmericaBlogGay, writes about the CPAC choice to invite the NRA’s LaPierre, as well as “disgraced ex-Congressman Allen West,” but exclude GOProud, as well as Log Cabin.
While I’m not the biggest fan of GOProud …, I think it’s disgusting that they have been excluded from the event while CPAC gives a speaking invitation to a man who … foamed at the mouth while in defense of guns immediately following the Newtown/Sandy Hook massacre.
More recently, the NRA’s LaPierre published a vile op-ed singling out Latinos as the main reason why ‘good’ Americans (versus brown Americans?) along border-states need semi-automatic weapons. …
The CPAC attendance of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich legitimizes the convention as representative of the GOP platform’s ideas and ideals. Make no mistake, this is ‘the’ conservative conference of the year.
Hayes makes a similar point regarding GOProud: (Emphasis added)
… I should be clear, GOProud is not an organization I share much with ideologically, or even, truth be told, like all that much. They come out of the Breitbart wing of the conservative movement that seems to relish nothing more than pissing off liberals.
GOProud, however, isn’t the point, he says. Rather, it’s the “principle”: (emphasis added)
… it’s not OK to ban organizations for reasons of pure bigotry. But the ACU does this because there’s a powerful constituency within conservatism that won’t have it any other way. It may not even be a majority of conservatives at this point, … but the bigots have enough juice that they call the shots.
(CPAC 2013 Banner via CPAC)