The chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference is denying that certain groups were not invited to this year’s event because they support LGBT rights.
When CPAC announced its schedule earlier this year, pro-LGBT groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud were conspicuously not on the list, even though they had been included in previous years.
GOProud, however, did participate on Monday in a Competitive Enterprise Institute panel on site, but it was not sponsored by CPAC.
When CNN host Carol Costello pressed CPAC Chairman Al Cardenas on Tuesday about snubbing gay and lesbian conservatives, he touted the unofficial panel as evidence that the groups were being included.
“We have had a panel hosted by our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute involving members of the gay movement, talking about gay marriage,” Cardenas insisted. “At the same time, we had another panel that was arguing in favor of traditional marriage and values.”
Costello asked the chairman if he expected a gay speaker to be given a prominent position at the next event.
“Absolutely,” he replied. “That has happened in the past as well. We’ve had gay advocates, we’ve had gay speakers in the past. We had a gay advocate in the panel.”
“Listen, we don’t invite people to the podium or exclude them based on their sexual preference,” Cardenas added. “We have a set of values, and those set of values are explained here at the conference through our various speakers, but we don’t exclude anyone participating. We invite everyone regardless of their sexual preference to participate. There are a lot of gay activists who are here.”
But GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia suggested to the unofficial panel on Monday that his group had been excluded specifically because of their members’ sexual orientation.
“We have tolerated something in our movement for far too long: bigotry against gay people,” LaSalvia said. “There are a few in our movement who just don’t like gay people.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast March 15, 2013.