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From the Archives: CPAC bars GOProud; presidential candidate Gary Johnson presciently weighs in

CPAC bars GOProud; presidential candidate Gary Johnson presciently weighs in
August 3, 2011 11:54 PM MST

In the lead-up to the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a minor controversy developed with regard to the presence of GOProud, an organization of gay conservatives and their allies. Several long-time CPAC participants announced that they would not take part in the 2011 conference because of GOProud’s presence.

The controversy came to a head, if not a conclusion, on July 29, when Gregg Keller, executive director of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which runs CPAC each year, sent a letter to GOProud’s Jimmy LaSalvia with what GOProud characterized as “disappointing news.”

‘Not invited’

CPAC GOProud Gary Johnson Jimmy LaSalvia
Keller told LaSalvia: “As a courtesy to your organization, a previous co-sponsor of CPAC, this letter serves to inform you that GOProud will not be invited to participate in a formal role for CPAC events scheduled during the 2012 election cycle.”

According to the Daily Caller, a similar letter was sent to the John Birch Society, which had a formal presence at CPAC for the first time in 2011.

Keller went on in the letter to say that GOProud members were welcome to attend CPAC and its programs as “individual registrants.”

‘Divisive agenda’

GOProud’s board of directors issued a response to the letter that said, in part, ““For the last two years, GOProud has sought to support CPAC and keep the conservative movement united. Unfortunately, elements inside and outside of ACU have pushed their own narrow, divisive and sometimes personal agenda. They have done so at the expense of the conservative movement.”

The GOProud board added that the focus of the conservative movement should be on defeating Barack Obama next year, not on internal bickering.

During CPAC, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner had an opportunity to interview Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson and asked him specifically about the GOProud controversy. His words presaged GOProud's reaction to its banishment from CPAC.

‘Gay rights are included’

Johnson, who has distinguished himself within the Republican presidential field with his libertarian positions on social issues, said the situation was “unfortunate.”

Gary Johnson CPAC Tyler Whitley
Governor Gary Johnson at CPAC 2011
Republicans, he said, quoting the Declaration of Independence, espouse as central values “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Johnson said that “liberty and freedom” are basic “tenets of what this country" stands for and that “gay rights are included in that" vision.

The former two-term New Mexico governor went on to say that “what I’m really trying to do is grow the Republican Party” because he thinks the GOP “is the only party capable of fixing where we’re at right now.”

Looking toward 2012, Johnson stated his hope “that Americans would give Republicans another shot at doing that -- but to do that, the Republican Party’s got to grow, got to be bigger than a narrow focus.”

In July, Johnson followed up on his comments at CPAC by becoming the first presidential candidate to refuse to sign the so-called “Family Leader” pledge in Iowa, calling it “offensive and unRepublican” because of its animus toward members of minority groups. At the same time, he released a campaign video titled “Tolerance Is American.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 3, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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