The controversy continues over the decision by organizers of the Western Conservative Summit, a major gathering in Denver of Republican politicos and activists including numerous 2016 presidential hopefuls, to “disinvite” the Log Cabin Republicans as a group that advocates “contrary to our agenda and our core beliefs.” The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported late yesterday on belated damage control attempts by the Colorado Republican Party, looking to stop the proverbial bleeding before it becomes a nationwide embarrassment for high-level candidates who were planning to attend:
The Colorado Republican Party has invited a gay GOP group that wasn’t allowed to set up a table at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver to share its booth.
Party Chairman Steve House, who took over in March, made the announcement Thursday afternoon, one day after a firestorm over the snub by summit organizers to the Log Cabin Republicans.
Western Conservative Summit organizer John Andrews is clearly on the defensive at this point, but still isn’t very happy about having the tables turned:
“We’re fine with the Colorado Republicans sharing some table space at the summit with all their affiliated groups. We’re not fine with the shaming and bullying pressure tactics of Log Cabin Republicans’ national office,” said summit chairman John Andrews.
Andrews responded further in a blog post at the Centennial Institute:
The Log Cabin Republicans were never specifically invited to be a Summit exhibitor, rather they applied and paid online, subject to CCU’s final approval. When we politely declined such organizational recognition and affirmed they are welcome to attend as individuals, they chose to make a news story of it.
Let them try. We don’t believe a private religious organization standing by its core beliefs is news at all… [Pols emphasis]
Unfortunately for Andrews and the high-profile Western Conservative Summit, their decision to exclude the GOP’s foremost LGBT advocacy group absolutely is news. With public attitudes toward marriage equality rapidly shifting away from the intolerance Republicans have capitalized on politically for decades, this controversy stands out as a symbol of the conflict over the issue–a conflict that now exists almost entirely within the Republican Party, as just about everyone else in our society is ready to see gays and lesbians vested with the same rights and responsibilities as every other American.
In short, Andrews has placed this conference, and by extension everyone who attends it, on the wrong side of an overwhelming consensus in America that LGBT Americans deserve equality. Political fallout far above the level of John Andrews and Colorado Christian University this could result in is what Colorado GOP chairman Steve House is afraid of. House made the best decision possible in a bad situation, but the underlying problem of a party at war with itself–over an issue increasingly settled outside the GOP–is still very much in the spotlight.
And this won’t be the last time it gets publicly nasty.