The new chair of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, today distanced his organization from GOProud, telling FrumForum in an exclusive interview that “it’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship” with the gay conservative organization.
The ACU, which annually organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference, has faced some criticism for including GOProud as a co-sponsor for the second year in a row. Socially conservative organizations have denounced the move, and the Heritage Foundation claimed that GOProud’s inclusion was part of their decision to opt-out.
Cardenas, who was selected yesterday to replace outgoing chairman David Keene, told FrumForum that he disapproved of GOProud’s response to the furor.
“I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable. And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things,” said Cardenas.
GOProud had asserted that Cleta Mitchell, the chairman of the ACU Foundation, was pushing conservative groups and individuals to boycott CPAC because of GOProud’s inclusion. Chris Barron, the chairman of GOProud, recently said in an interview that Mitchell was “a nasty bigot.”
“It’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship [with GOProud] because of their behavior and attitude,” Cardenas told FrumForum.
Asked for GOProud’s response, the group’s chairman apologized for his comments about Cleta Mitchell.
“For the past six months, we have watched as unfair and untrue attacks have been leveled against our organization, our allies, our friends and sometimes even their families. Everyone has their breaking point and clearly in my interview with Metro Weekly I had reached mine. I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell and for that I apologize,” said Chris Barron.
Asked about whether he values a big tent approach to conservatism, Cardenas said that he did – but that his vision applied principally to reaching out to different minorities and ethnic groups.
“There are not enough African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities here. That diversity is critical – you don’t need to change your value system to attract more diversity into the movement… [but] I’m not going to – for the sake of being inclusive – change the principles that have made the movement what it is,” said Cardenas.
“David [Keene] invited these folks [GOProud] in an effort to be inclusive… Having friends of ours leaving… presents difficulties to me,” he said. “There’s always going to be some tension, [but] there should never be any tension between time-tested values.”
Asked if someone who supported gay marriage could be a conservative, Cardenas replied, “Not a Ronald Reagan conservative… I will say this: we adopted a resolution unanimously at ACU advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, so that answers how we feel on the issue.”
Cardenas says that his priorities as the new ACU chairman will be focused on “making sure that our true friends never leave the table.”
Cleta Mitchell’s position as ACU Foundation chairman also appears to be safe. The new chairman, who has the authority to appoint a new one should he want to, told FrumForum that he has “no intentions [regarding Mitchell] except to keep her where she is.”
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