LGBT issues and politics have long been polarizing entities, a trend that has only just started to shift in recent years as lawmakers consider important issues like marriage equality and workplace discrimination. This is not to say that LGBT people are not political, or that politicians never lean in favor of progressing initiatives that support LGBT people. In fact, one of the biggest conservative events of the year is making waves by actively including gay people to attend and participate in political discourse.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is an annual political conference that invites conservative activists and elected officials from across the country to come together for discussions about the political climate. Founded by the American Conservative Union (ACU) in the 1970s, the CPAC has been historically exclusive of LGBT people. However, in recent years, more and more conservative Republicans have come out as gay, which has forced the CPAC to open its doors to these influential political figures. Ken Mehlman is a prominent conservative political consultant, and James Richardson is an influential GOP spokesman, for example.
Earlier this week, CPAC chairman Matt Schlapp made an announcement about how gay conservatives would be welcome at this year’s conference. “When the Conservative Political Action Conference convenes later this week, Matt Schlapp has a message for gay conservatives: You are welcome here,” reports Metro Weekly. Schlapp himself wants there to be no confusion about his intention to be as inclusive as possible. “To be absolutely crystal clear, if you are a conservative who is gay, you should come to CPAC – you are welcome to come to CPAC,” he said.
Schlapp also explains that “we have taken rather historic steps to make it very clear that CPAC is welcoming of all kinds of conservatives, including conservatives who are gay,” mentioning that there will be gay speakers on both the main stage and in breakout sessions.
It is pretty remarkable that the CPAC chairman is making a point to openly welcome all gay conservatives to this year’s conference. Of course, he makes no explicit mention of lesbians, bisexual, or transgender conservatives, but perhaps this is the kind of small step necessary to get to that point in the years to come.
What do you think? Is this a radical gesture on the part of the CPAC, or not radical enough for politics in 2015?