CitizenLink, a Focus on the Family affiliate, applauded the American Conservative Union's board of directors for breaking ties with the controversial gay political group, GOProud. CitizenLink says it is more comfortable attending CPAC 2012 now that GOProud will no longer be a formal cosponsor of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Tom Minnery, executive director of CitizenLink, said GOProud is not a conservative organization despite its Republican affiliation.
"GOProud parts company with most conservatives on the issue of marriage," Minnery explained. "The definition of marriage is so central to a traditional understanding of what family is that having them as participants in the conference seemed to be at odds with the goals of the conservative movement."
GOProud, which describes itself online as a representative for "gay conservatives and their allies," responded to the decision with "disappointment" over a break in what it says was a united movement.
"For the last two years, GOProud has sought to support CPAC and keep the conservative movement united," responded GOProud's board of directors in a written statement. "What is truly sad is that this troubling development takes place at a time when we should be united and focused on defeating Barack Obama."
Minnery countered that CPAC has not been unified with GOProud occupying a formal role in the conference.
While ACU conservative groups herald marriage between a man and a woman as an ideal union in the media, Minnery says of GOProud, "They gave a number of interviews last year about their opposition to [traditional] marriage."
GOProud was also behind a letter sent to Republican National Committee leaders suggesting they declare a truce on social issues and focus solely on fiscal issues, detailed Minnery.
A number of conservative member groups – the Heritage Foundation, Media Research Center and Family Research Council – walked away from CPAC in the two years GOProud held a formal spot in the conference.
CitizenLink, a family advocacy organization, attended CPAC 2011 despite the departures, but was reconsidering its attendance to CPAC 2012, said Minnery.
GOProud was invited to co-sponsor CPAC under the direction of former ACU Chairman David Keene. The ACU's newly elected Chairman Al Cardenas vowed to implement a "comprehensive vetting process on each CPAC participant," in an effort to bring groups "back in the fold," CitizenLink reported.
GOProud's board maintains the decision to rescind its invitation to be a co-sponsor of CPAC 2012 was made by a fringe element who sought to push "their own narrow, divisive and sometimes personal agenda" on the group.
However, Minnery said it was the general feeling of those who voted. "It was a very substantial vote, I understand, in favor of the action that was taken," he recalled.
Keene notified GOProud about the decision in a letter and informed the group that they are "welcomed and encouraged" to attend CPAC 2012 as "individual registrants."
The ACU also voted against giving the John Birch Society – a limited government, individual freedoms group – a formal role in the conference.
The Christian Post contacted the ACU to comment on the removal and received a reply via email.
"Chairman Cardenas exercised his option to take these issues (the controversies surrounding GOProud and other sponsors) to a vote of the board – which has been done in the past. The board voted against inviting GOProud and The John Birch Society to play a formal role in upcoming CPAC events. As always, individual members of these organizations are welcome and encouraged to attend CPAC. We look forward to hosting an extraordinarily successful CPAC 2012 in our nation's capital next February."