The more then two-year rift between gay Republican groups and the American Conservatives Union, which organizes the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, isn’t over yet.
Today, one of those groups, GOProud, touted a new day it its relationship with CPAC, suggesting that this year, their attendance at the conference is a step forward after being barred from sponsoring the event by CPAC organizers in previous years.
The news, first reported in the National Journal, suggested a reversal on CPAC’s part.
But in reality, CPAC hasn’t changed its mind about whether GOProud can be an official sponsor of the event like other conservative groups.
GOProud members can attend as guests this year, as they have in previous years, but they still won’t be a sponsor like they were 2010 and 2011, nor will they be a vendor or have a booth.
“We’re participating at the level this year that we want to participate in. We didn’t ask to have a booth or be on a panel. We didn’t ask to be a sponsor,” Ross Hemminger, who took over GOProud last summer, told ABC News. “We wanted to take it slow. We wanted to focus on rebuilding a relationship with the folks that we didn’t have a relationship with previously.”
But others saw it as at best, a half measure, specifically one member of GOProud’s founding leadership.
Chris Barron said plainly, “nothing has changed.”
“Individual GOProud members are attending, which is exactly what the terms of the CPAC ban were before,” Barron said in an email. “I am frankly embarrassed that GOProud’s current leadership would try to pawn this off as some new compromise or step forward.”
Barron later announced on Twitter that he was “deeply disappointed” with GOProud’s leadership and would resign from the group’s board.
Gregory T. Angelo, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans confirmed to ABC News that his group is also not going to be a sponsor this year either, but like last year, they will attend.
He added that Log Cabin, the largest and oldest group of gay conservatives, are in talks with CPAC organizers about their role in this year’s conference, but he has no breakthroughs to announce so far.
“At this point stay tuned,” Angelo told ABC News. “I’m not Pollyanna, but discussion that I’ve had with some individuals thus far have been encouraging.”
Mending the messy rift between the groups was praised by some Republicans.
It’s about time. CPAC to allow participation by gay GOP group. http://t.co/3O3cYrwq09
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) February 19, 2014
And CPAC is clearly signalling an effort to bring gay Republicans back into the tent this year– a step toward a detente in a longstanding disagreement that has sometimes featured harsh words between the two sides.
“We had a constructive meeting with GOProud’s leadership last week,” said Dan Schneider, Executive Director of ACU. “The directors have a new vision for promoting a broad array of conservative priorities; from sound fiscal policies to strong 2nd amendment rights to pro-life policies.”
“We welcome GOProud’s attendance at this year’s CPAC conference. I believe their presence could help establish a productive relationship in the future,” he added.