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Gay group causing Focus to question sponsorship role in conference

By: MARK BARNA
January 4, 2011
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photo - Tom Minnery of CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family Photo by
Tom Minnery of CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family Photo by  

Focus on the Family and other conservative ministries are boycotting or questioning their commitment to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., next month because a gay advocacy group is cosponsoring the event.

Tom Minnery, senior vice president of the Focus lobbying arm CitizenLink, said Tuesday that the February event could be the last time the Colorado Springs-based ministry is a CPAC sponsor.

CitizenLink is participating this year in part to offset GOProud’s presence at CPAC, Minnery said.

“When you don’t have the influence of organizations like ours,” Minnery said, “you end up with influences from organizations like GOProud.”

Over the years, CPAC has become the largest conservative political action rally in America, attended each year by thousands of Republican politicians and conservative Christian leaders. Among scheduled speakers this year are Republican powerhouses Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and author Ann Coulter. 

GOProud formed in 2009 in Washington, D.C., to give gay Republicans a political voice. Its 10,000 members favor conservative causes such as smaller government, fiscal restraint and gun ownership, GOProud founder and president Jimmy LaSalvia said.

But it also strays from Republican orthodoxy by not denouncing gay marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the U.S. military.

It’s those exceptions that rankle some conservatives.

Last year Liberty Counsel, which offers legal counsel on Christian issues, was the only CPAC 2009 cosponsor, among dozens, to pull out because of GOProud’s participation.

This year, Liberty Counsel, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, American Values and a few others are boycotting the event.

“To have a cosponsor that undermines the values of another cosponsor makes no sense,” Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver said.

Calls Tuesday to CPAC’s organizing group, The American Conservative Union, were not returned.

Minnery said that at CPAC 2010 GOProud promoted gay issues at its booth.

But LaSalvia maintains that, though he responds if asked about gay issues, his focus is to promote Republican issues.

“We look forward to helping advance a conservative agenda,” LaSalvia said.

For more from LaSalvia and boycotting conservative leaders, go to Barna’s blog, The Pulpit, at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com.

 

CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story misspelled Jimmy LaSalvia and incorrectly stated the membership number and founding year of GOProud.

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