March 4, 2016 at 5:20 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
‘Smooth sailing’ for gay Republicans at CPAC
Log Cabin Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Log Cabin Republicans Stephen Morris, Gregory T. Angelo and John Connolly attend the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 3, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Members of the Log Cabin Republicans report it’s been “smooth sailing” for them at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference, despite past opposition to their presence at the event.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said during an interview with the Washington Blade on Thursday near his group’s exhibition booth at the event he’s been treated “incredibly well.”

“I was actually taken aback with the lack of controversy surrounding our acceptance as sponsors,” Angelo said. “I was anticipating there would be more blowback than there has been, and this is only the first day of CPAC, but thus far, it’s essentially been smooth sailing.”

At the booth in the exhibit hall, manned alternately by Angelo and one of eight volunteers assisting him, CPAC attendees of various ages and ethnicities visit and inquire about Log Cabin. As of early Thursday, Angelo said he had about 50 new people register with the organization.

Booth visitors are given a four-point informational card about Log Cabin. It says Log Cabin is the only gay group to oppose the Iran deal, Obamacare, the estate tax and Hillary Clinton for her “hypocrisy on gay rights.”

Angelo, who announced his group would sponsor CPAC during a D.C. Log Cabin meeting last month, said Log Cabin is taking the opportunity of CPAC to discuss the organization’s views on issues other than gay rights, such as its support for marriage equality or LGBT non-discrimination laws.

“There had been hundreds — at least a thousand at this point — college-aged students who have come up to the Log Cabin Republicans booth to either say, ‘I am a member of Log Cabin Republicans,’ or, ‘Hey, I’m a student in college, I’m a straight ally and I totally support you guys being here and I’m really glad you guys hit this historic milestone,'” Angelo said.

None of the conversations at the CPAC booth have resulted in arguments, Angelo said, although he confessed skeptics had come to the booth.

“Civil discourse and debate is part of what makes me proud to be a conservative, and, yes, there has been some civil discourse and debate,” Angelo said.

In talks with CPAC attendees, Angelo said the issue that has resonated most with Christian conservatives is Log Cabin’s opposition to the Iran deal and concerns about human rights atrocities there and at the hands of ISIS, especially toward LGBT people.

“Let’s talk about pro-life in regards to helping our gay brothers and sisters across the ocean in the Middle East,” Angelo said. “That shows me that there’s potential for there to be common ground.”

The American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, has a history of reluctance to accept gay conservative groups at CPAC, but that seems to have abated in 2016. The most famous instance of hostility is CPAC’s relationship with the now defunct gay conservative group GOProud.

After GOProud sponsored CPAC in 2010 and 2011, CPAC banned GOProud from sponsoring the event along with the John Birch Society. GOProud claimed it was banned for being a gay group, but the ACU cited bad behavior. (GOProud’s board chair Chris Barron called anti-gay former ACU board member Cleta Mitchell a “nasty bigot.” He later apologized, then later apologized for the apology upon leaving GOProud.)

It’s unclear whether 2016 marks the first time Log Cabin has sponsored CPAC. A source familiar with Log Cabin said the group sponsored the event in 2005, but Angelo minimized any participation at that time, saying it may have been the Liberty Education Forum, an arm of Log Cabin, distributing fliers.

“To my knowledge, people have said that as far as they’re concerned this is the first time Log Cabin Republicans has been able to be formal sponsors of the event, with our logo on the signage of the event as well as an exhibitor space here, but I’m not 100 percent sure,” Angelo said. “It’s fair to say the first time in over 10 years.”

Angelo declined to disclose the cost of Log Cabin’s sponsorship for the CPAC event, but the CPAC website shows that the cost of the level of sponsorship that Angelo described is $7,500.

Last year, there was acrimony between Log Cabin and CPAC when the gay group accused the ACU of rebuffing the organization’s request to sponsor the 2015 convention. The conflict, which erupted in the media, resulted in Angelo getting a speaking slot for a panel on Putin’s Russia for which attendees crowded the room.

Angelo said the opportunity to speak last year “represented something of an 11th hour detente” between Log Cabin and CPAC. Angelo confessed he didn’t seek a speaking opportunity this year, but said getting sponsorship and not a speaking slot is somewhat of a trade-off.

“Speaking would have been nice,” Angelo said. “Sponsorship is nice. Speaking and having sponsorship would be even better.”

The Log Cabin booth in the exhibition hall is notably separate from the booths for the anti-LGBT Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. Angelo scoffed when the Blade asked if he had confronted officials at those booths, saying, “Why would I do that?”

“I’m not coming here to be a firebrand, neither is anyone of our volunteers at Log Cabin Republicans,” Angelo said. “By the time the weekend is said and done, yeah, I might go down to the Family Research Council and the Faith & Freedom Council to introduce myself, but nothing more than that.”

Unlike in years past when GOProud was sponsoring CPAC and those anti-gay groups were critical of the decision to allow them to participate, they had nothing to say this time around about Log Cabin’s participation.

But one Catholic-affiliated group whose members are known for wearing red sashes, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property, did object in a news statement.

“Ronald Reagan gave us a brilliant metaphor. He said the stability and unity of the conservative movement is like a stool with three legs — social, fiscal and defense conservatives,” said TFP director Preston Noell III. “By giving the homosexual movement a platform of legitimacy, CPAC organizers are cutting off one of the legs — pro-family, pro-God Americans — and the stool will come crashing down. And that’s exactly what the Left wants.”

Angelo said TFP has “been nothing if not consistent” about opposition to LGBT groups participating in CPAC.

“I am disheartened that they decided to put out a press release against Log Cabin Republicans before even just letting me know that they’d be putting that out, let alone trying to engage with us to find out what it is that we’ve been discussing here at CPAC,” Angelo said.

But Angelo said he hopes his organization’s presence at the event will make it so any sort of conflict between the group and attendees will be a thing of the past.

“It’s my hope that by … Saturday afternoon, people will realize that Log Cabin Republicans has a valuable role to play in this conservative movement, and also realize looking back that this perennial fight Log Cabin Republicans has had with CPAC, its organizers and participating organizations regarding our sponsorship is really just a silly waste of time,” Angelo said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • The words coming out of the candidates is horrible and very Homophobic.

    • Yes, but it’s great to hear the honesty and it serves as a wake up call to our community which is becoming way too complacent and taking our rights and victories for granted as if they were cast in stone and cannot be reversed.

      I’d prefer the enemy that is candid and up front about it than the one that pretends to be my friend to get my support then back stab me later! Mitt Romney was like that with our community in Massachusetts! Never trust a conservative!

  • Hey, good job giving $7,500 to a group of people who view you as perverts. I’m sure they won’t have anything negative to write about you in the platform this summer either.

  • Why would there be blowback from conservatives this election with gays willing to give their candidate a vote? They want to win at all costs so of course they will take your support and then screw you over after they get elected!

    Sometimes you have to wonder if GLBT conservatives are brain dead? Look at Caitlyn Jenner. Today it was reported that she loves Ted Cruz as a Presidential candidate and thinks his policies are great and that she would like to be his trans ambassador. It just blows your mind that she can be so clueless. She may as well think she can give natural birth while she is at it.

    • Stop talking about a man as if he was a woman. Would you call an anorexic a fat @$$?

      • Babe, evidently you haven’t met any flaming queens who are more of a woman than people born that way. If you look like a duck, and sound like one, people will call you a duck.

        We used to think that trans women were drag queens back in the day. Now those lines have been very blurred.

        Some men are women only in bed.

  • It’s rich for the LCR to claim civic discourse is why they’re proud to be conservatives after they’ve been flirting with supporting the racist bigot Donald Trump all election season.

  • Sodomy in the conservative movement. No wonder the fake conservative movement is in the process of committing suicide. I will never support CPAC again.

    • Thanks for your hateful homophobic comment. It shows us the true nature of the conservative movement and what we can expect by giving it any support!

      • I don’t have an irrational fear of homosexuals, I have a rational disgust of their abominations and a love/pity for them. The only reason the Marxists are pretending to be your allies now is because they are using you to wage war on Truth, tradition, morality, the family and God. I don’t “hate” LGBT nor do I regularly read “their” news.

        • Why do you read glbt news at all? If you’re disgusted it makes no sense but then again nothing you say does.

          Hate or disgust what is the difference? So much for that Christian love you preach to us. You fool no one but yourself!

          People like you are the reason homosexuals have to be militant. Thanks for confirming this!

          Go to cpac next time, find the lcr table and yell sodomy at them with your hands around your face like the kid in home alone or that painting the scream. It will be a hoot! Would love to see Greg angelo’s face after you do.

          • I was searching for news about CPAC and came across this. Real conservatives would never invite sodomites to spread their propaganda of death at their conference. This is one of many reasons why nobody that matters cares about CPAC anymore.

            There is a huge difference between hate and disgust. Sodomy is disgusting and unnatural and evil. It flies in the face of God’s design for humanity. Homosexuals have to be militant? Militant in supporting sodomy? Um, ok…

            I will never go to CPAC again, thanks. They are now a joke. I don’t even like Trump but I was glad to see him shun this stupid freak show.

          • You should go one last time and find lcr to scream sodomy at them with a high pitched voice that makes you sound like madalen Kahn.

          • Nope. I refuse to attend a conference where proud sodomites are encouraged.

          • Well with that attitude America will be a limited place for you! Being welcomed and treated with dignity and respect is a purported Christian virtue. Jesus treated lepers and prostitutes like human beings. Glazed over that part did you?

          • I treat homosexuals like human beings and I love them but I refuse to encourage them in their sin when I know the eternal consequences!!! The most loving thing you can do for a homosexual is tell them the truth. The most hateful thing you can do is lie to them and tell them homosexuality (or any other sin) is OK, something to be proud of, normal, etc. Jesus never encouraged sinners to keep sinning. He told them to repent and sin no more.

    • Sadly they are. Can you imagine they would likely vote for Cruz or Rubio given their overt attacks on our community. What’s the sense of identifying as gay is you aren’t going to oppose people with an agenda to do us harm?

      Jenner’s support for Cruz is revolting and shows are crazy some of them are!

  • There are many highly educated, fiscally conservative ppl in gay community, that strongly disapprove of democratic fiscal practices, however, find it hard to vote for republican candidate who openly opposes our rights. Why has Christian views taken over Republican Party? I am Native American, not everyone is Christian, but we want fiscal conservatism. If the Republican Party would take their own religious views out of government, and concentrate on real issues we are ALL concerned about such as the economy, and safety, they would win so many more votes. Not just from gay community, but those who are tolerant and don’t really care who you love. The Supreme Court has made ruling, this should no longer be issue.

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