Conservative gay group GOProud is suddenly being welcomed back to CPAC after years of exclusion, the National Review reports:
Two former GOProud summer interns, Ross Hemminger and Matt Bechstein, took over last summer and sought to repair the bitterly frayed relationship. Under a compromise reached last week, they will attend the March 6-8 gathering as guests, without sponsorship or a booth. GOProud sees the lower-profile role as an important first step.
"We really just want to be part of the conservative movement," said Hemminger, a veteran of the losing Senate campaigns by Scott Brown and Gabriel Gomez in Massachusetts. "We want to establish a fruitful and respectful relationship."
Dan Schneider, executive director of the ACU, praised the GOProud directors for their "new vision" of promoting conservative principles from gun rights to opposition to abortion.
"We welcome GOProud's attendance at this year's CPAC conference," Schneider said in an e-mail. "I believe their presence could help establish a productive relationship in the future."
Former GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia, who left the Republican Party this year, doubts this represents the kind of changes they're trumpeting:
"There has been no change in the ACU's policy since 2011," LaSalvia said in an e-mail. "There likely won't be real change at the ACU until their old, out-of-touch leadership retires."
Former GOProud Chair Chris Barron still has a bad taste in his mouth as well:
"If I was still running GOProud," he told me, "I wouldn't accept a three-fifths invitation to CPAC."
Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union which runs CPAC, told the group in 2011 that they were welcome to come so long as they drop all support for gay rights measures.
This year, Cardenas says:
"CPAC is about finding conservative solutions to every challenge in America and not just saying 'no.; We're determined to win the majority of American support."