Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Ronald Reagan Dinner at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013.

CPAC Still Dissing GOProud, Says Former Leader

Not so fast, says Jimmy LaSalvia, as his former group heads to CPAC this year.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Ronald Reagan Dinner at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013.

The Conservative Political Action Conference has agreed to let Republican gay rights group GOProud attend its 2014 conference.

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Just call it the CPAC compromise.

On Wednesday, National Journal reported that the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, and the gay conservative group, GOProud, had come to a detente. GOProud’s current leadership, Matt Bechstein and Ross Hemminger would be coming to CPAC, but there would be no booth, there would be no sponsorship.

GOProud’s relationship with the annual conference has been a tenuous one at best. GOProud was an official sponsor in 2010 and 2011 -- even having a “Homocon” party with pundit Ann Coulter -- but because of pressure from socially conservative groups, they weren’t asked back in 2012. The same goes for 2013, though co-founder and then executive director Jimmy LaSalvia attended the conference and appeared on an off-site panel.

LaSalvia -- who left the group over the summer and even dropped out of the Republican Party this January -- said that this agreement is not an improvement.

[READ: Some CPAC Board Members Secretly Trying to Get Gay GOP Group Back Into Conference]

“Nothing has changed,” he told Whispers via email. “The fight has always been about whether a gay group could be a sponsor -- they still can’t sponsor.”

In fact LaSalvia likened the move to treating the group like a second-class citizen.

“If I were still leading GOProud, I wouldn’t want to be treated as three-fifths of an organization,” he wrote.


That being said, GOProud’s new leaders, two former interns who took over after LaSalvia, seem pleased. Announcing the answer to the “big question” -- whether they were headed to the March conference being held outside of D.C. -- Bechstein and Hemminger announced their yes with an exclamation point.

“As always with your help GOProud will continue building bridges within the Republican Party that foster inclusion and reinforce freedom for everyone,” they wrote.


Meanwhile, ACU’s Executive Director Dan Schneider played it safe knowing he has to keep peace among the various conservative groups.

“We welcome GOProud’s attendance at this year’s CPAC conference,” Schneider said in a statement to Whispers. “I believe their presence could help establish a productive relationship in the future.”