While much of the focus at CPAC focused on the official straw poll results, FrumForum decided to do its own straw poll of the attendees and their view on the inclusion of gay conservative group GOProud at CPAC.
We found that despite the recent controversy of the inclusion of GOProud, most conference attendees supported the group’s presence.
Out of a survey of 50 CPAC attendees, thirty-one (62%) supported the inclusion of GOProud at the conference, and only three (6%) opposed the group’s presence. Five respondents had never heard of the group (10%), and eleven had no opinion (22%).
CPAC attracted a large young population that seemed to have more liberal social values and conservative economic values. As the official CPAC straw poll showed, 49% of CPAC attendees were between the ages of 18-25.
Concerning GOProud, conservatives from all over the country were tolerant of sexuality, as long as the group inhabited conservative values.
“I think CPAC has traditionally selected on groups based on ideology, not on sexual preference, and so I think we need to get back to bringing in groups based on their ideas, not on what they do in their private lives,” said Patrick Coyle of Virginia.
“I’m all in favor of it – I think the Republican Party should be an umbrella party. Just because some people are gay doesn’t mean you should kick them out of the party. If the Republican Party wants to come back into power, we should be an umbrella party,” said Josh from Pennsylvania.
“Our rights don’t come to us because we belong to one group or another, but they come to us as individuals. So they have the same rights as anyone else. So their opinions should be represented here. And the idea that people are boycotting because of it [makes no sense]. They should be here to counter their arguments. Embrace them, don’t belittle them or antagonize them. Let them have their peace and present your own piece at the same time,” said Drew, of Georgia.
“I’m for inclusion of as many different constituencies as possible, and I don’t think it’s our position to judge people – I believe that’s God’s place. So we should embrace the people. Love the sinner, hate the sin, so to speak,” said Brenda who came to CPAC from Florida.
“If you’re really going to be conservative and have those Christian-based right wing values, we’re gonna welcome people of all makes, models, and races,” noted Kelly of Michigan.
Attendees opposed to the inclusion of GOProud at CPAC held their opinions not based on the sexuality of the group’s members, but the boycotting actions of the group.
“On the one hand, I really don’t care in terms of their position on gay marriage, but GOProud has done a huge disservice to the conservative movement by personally attacking politicians with whom it disagrees. I’m also disappointed that their headline singer was someone who was a major Hilary supporter in 2008. That’s completely hypocritical,” said Steven Irtwell from Colorado.
“I personally don’t support their inclusion per say, but I also don’t support groups like the Heritage Foundation and others that are boycotting or not participating this year. I think we need to be cohesive and focus on defeating Obama in 2012 and expressing different parts of conservatism that may or may not be consistent with GOProud’s message. But regardless of their inclusion, I think other groups that consider themselves conservatives should be here and participate,” said Bradis from Massachusetts.
While there are conservatives who oppose GOProud based on their sexuality preferences, many CPAC attendees were not bothered by this. Indeed, it seems as if social standpoint of the conservative movement has shifted dramatically – a fact reinforced by the CPAC official straw poll results showing only 9% of attendees identifying social conservative issues as their core principles.
“I think a lot of people still call themselves conservatives that aren’t really socially conservative,” said CPAC-goer Buffy from Illinois.