(CNSNews.com) - The board of the American Conservative Union—an organization known for monitoring the votes of members of Congress and then scoring those votes according to how they accord with the organization’s views of conservatism—held two votes of its own, via email, on whether to give GOProud, a homosexual Republican group, a planning role in the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Members of the board were told that the first email vote was a 14-14 tie, according to board member
“That’s all internal ACU information that we don’t comment on,”
Keene, who served as national political director for the 1980 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush (when the senior Bush ran against Ronald Reagan), said that to exclude a group like GOProud from CPAC now would be like excluding pro-life groups from CPAC back in the early 1970s, when, Keene said, “most conservatives were pro-choice on the life question.”
Board member Blackwell, meanwhile, is sharply critical not only of the ACU’s decision to give GOProud a planning role in CPAC but also of the non-transparent manner in which the decision was made.
“This issue was clearly of such importance to the organization and to the movement that we should have had an in-person meeting where we could all discuss it and vote in a way that how we voted would be known to all the members of the board,” Blackwell told
“I certainly wouldn’t know how to verify the vote,” Blackwell said.
“As far as I know, except for people like me who are willing to say how they voted, there has been no disclosure of how the different people voted,” Blackwell said.
The annual CPAC conference in
Blackwell said the first vote on whether to make GOProud a “participating organization” in CPAC, and thus give it a planning role in the event, was a 14-14 tie, which means three members of the 31-member board did not vote. Blackwell said he had no idea what the final tally on the second vote was because
“There was a great deal of discussion by e-mail. I think it was handled as well as could be expected,”
GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia told CNSNews.com this week that the organization is excited to be part of CPAC and said, “I stand by our conservative record. I’ll put our conservative credentials against anybody’s.”
GOProud advocates some views that conservatives generally share such as lower taxes, a strong national defense and defense of the Second Amendment. However, the group opposes a federal marriage amendment and most recently was an outspoken advocate for repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning homosexuals from the military. After the Senate voted on Saturday to repeal that law, LaSalvia said in a statement: “GOProud is thankful to every Senator, regardless of party affiliation, who voted for repeal.”
In a July 27 commentary in The Advocate, a homosexual newspaper, GOProud Chairman Chris Barron wrote about his personal support for same-sex marriage while advocating that homosexual activists focus on other things in the near-term.
The gay lobby’s “pursuit of marriage at all costs, at [sic] often at the expense of other legislation that would improve the lives of average gay Americans, is one of the most serious strategic and political blunders in modern history,” Barron wrote.
But, he said, “Before the left accuses me of selling out the fight for marriage, let me make it clear--marriage is important and I support marriage rights for gay couples. I believe marriage is a debate worth having and a fight worth fighting. Marriage is certainly personally important to me--in March of this year, I married my partner here in
“We’ve only in the history of the conference disallowed one group from coming in and that was an overtly racist group that wanted a booth to advertise racism,”
“ACU and most organizations in the movement are against gay marriage,” said
“If you go back into the history of the conservative movement in the early days of CPAC, most conservatives were pro-choice on the life question,” Keene said. “Debates took place at CPAC and that changed. And now most conservatives are pro-life. Perhaps if we approached it this way, back in the early 1970s, the pro-choice people would have banned the pro-life people. I don’t think that that’s a smart way to go about running either a philosophical or a political movement. We’re not afraid of ideas. We’re willing to discuss ideas. Most conservatives know what it is that they believe in. Most conservatives share the bulk of views of other conservatives on defense, economic and social questions.”
Blackwell says formally associating GOProud with CPAC will hurt CPAC.
“I do not believe that any organization which is grossly offensive to any major element of the conservative movement should be formally affiliated with CPAC,” Blackwell said. “There’s got to be good judgment involved because you can’t do three pages of what is grossly offensive means or what a major element of movement conservatism means. There’s got to be good judgment. In my judgment, there was not good judgment in this case.”
“I have no doubt this will damage CPAC in the eyes of people who have been working for years to create a winning coalition composed of economic conservatives and social issue conservatives,” Blackwell added.
On Nov. 15, the American Principles Project, a conservative organization founded by Princeton Prof. Robert George, wrote an open letter to
“We believe that, in general, the conservative movement is strengthened by the presence within it of organizations that give priority to particular, even single, issues,” said the letter signed by APP President Frank Cannon. “It is not necessary for each group within a political movement to embrace the fullness of a detailed and defined philosophy. But it is necessary for each group within any coherent movement not to stand in diametrical opposition to one or more of its core principles. It is our conviction that the institution of marriage and the family qualify—historically, philosophically and empirically—as such core principles. An organization committed to the ultimate abandonment of the legal and social meaning of marriage by definition disqualifies itself from recognition as a partner in the conservative cause.”
“GOProud states prominently on its web site that it supports a ‘traditional conservative agenda’ that includes ‘limited government,’ ‘individual liberty,’ ‘free markets,’ and a ‘confident foreign policy,’” said the APP letter. “This is a traditional conservative agenda, minus one--traditional values. The issue is not that GOProud works on only four of the five traditional items on the conservative agenda--rather, it omits--because it actively opposes--one part of the core. It is no more acceptable as a participant at CPAC than a group that said it embraced the ‘traditional conservative agenda’ but actively worked for higher taxes and greater governmental control of the economy."
Blackwell, for his part, believes
“Let me say this, there’s no doubt in my mind some members voted the way they did because they were simply supporting Chairman David Keene,” Blackwell said. “The fact that half of his board initially voted against him should have been sufficient for him to realize that he was making a mistake. I certainly wished he had taken that as an indication he had been wrong. But, it’s more difficult for David than it is for other people to admit that they are wrong.”
Board member Robinson, of the Young America’s Foundation, like Blackwell, said he opposed giving GOProud a planning role in the 2011 CPAC.
“We have had over the years at CPAC a cross section I’m sure that are gay, others have brought up divorcees, adulterers, whatever. I’m sure the normal mix of speakers CPAC has had in 30 years has had all kinds,” Robinson told
ACU board member Lew Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, would not tell