The organizer of a major conservative conference said gay Republicans should feel comfortable attending the event this week.
Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), insisted that conservatives must be realistic about broadening their coalition to include gay conservatives, if they want to win elections.
His comments, which aired Sunday, come amid accusations that the conference excluded a Republican group that supports gay marriage — something the organization disputes. The interview was recorded Wednesday, a day before the current allegations were made.
"I want to make it really clear, gay conservatives should feel comfortable to come to CPAC. Libertarians play an important role in this coalition," he said in an interview with "Capital Download." "We don't have enough people in the center right to start excluding people from that coalition. They all need to feel welcome. We need to pull together on the things that we agree with."
The Conservative Political Action Conference should be a place to welcome disagreement, he said, noting that his own group would continue to oppose gay marriage.
"But at the same time, we have to understand that our political collation has to be realistic, and we have to broaden it, and we have to win," he said. "Not winning in politics, in a democracy is everything. If you don't win the elections, you don't get to have the votes for the public policy you want. And I think conservatives really do — they understand that."
CPAC has been accused over the past few years of excluding gay Republican groups. This year, the Log Cabin Republicans accused Schlapp’s group of preventing it from becoming a sponsor. The ACU said the Log Cabin Republicans were not considered because the group failed to fill out the proper form.
— This post was corrected at 5:10 p.m. to reflect when the interview took place.