The Conservative Political Action Conference is packed with right-wing believers of what in politics is called “traditional family values.”
An easy target for these conservatives is President Obama’s recent mandate that religious groups provide health care services that include contraception, even if those groups disagree with their use.
Almost as if on cue, speaker after speaker on Thursday took the stage to deride the mandate.
“The federal government does not have the power” to force the mandate, said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“The Obama administration has crossed a dangerous line,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“This attack on religious freedom cannot and will not stand,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
“This administration is assaulting the Catholic Church,” said the former presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas.
Their comments were clearly aimed at the mostly religious audience, but sitting stage left in the spacious Marriott ballroom was a registered guest who defined himself as not only supportive of abortions, but even of gay marriage.
Granted, Cameron Parker is a senior at the University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill campus, one of many students who attended the annual CPAC show in northwest Washington.
“I’m personally pro-choice,” Parker said.
The younger audience at CPAC, Parker said, is reflective of a “little more mainstream” bloc that could potentially bring the conservative movement away from the fringe with which it is so often associated.
Gay marriage is part of that. Parker, who supports that, too, said gay marriage is an “equal protection issue” that conservatives should naturally embrace.
“It conflicts with certain people’s values,” he conceded. “I think it’s going to happen regardless. … People’s views are evolving.”