GOProud, a Republican gay-rights group, is still not officially invited to attend CPAC, next week's conservative conference in the D.C. area -- but it will be on site.
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud's co-founder and executive director, will be participating in a panel happening at the same time as CPAC, in the same building as CPAC, sponsored by one of the same hosts of CPAC.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is sponsoring the panel entitled “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.” As of this morning, panelists included Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Liz Mair and Jonah Goldberg.
Today, however, the group added LaSalvia to the group, as well as conservative writers Margaret Hoover and Jennifer Rubin.
LaSalvia is excited to participate, and says his understanding is that CPAC is unhappy with the additions.
The panel is not an official CPAC event, but does appear on the master schedule that will go out to CPAC participants as one of many available options to attend on the first day of the conference -- March 14 -- at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
“CEI is interested in advancing the cause of smaller government and liberty, and looking for ways to reach out to new constituencies,” says Christine Hall, director of communications for CEI. “To the extent we can partner with groups like GOProud and people who share our values and goals -- we want to be able to do that.”
Hall says that CEI has been a co-sponsor of CPAC for many years, and has not gotten any pushback since making the GOProud addition.
The American Conservative Union, the main group that organizes CPAC, confirmed that.
"CPAC sponsors are provided use of our facilities for a two-hour period during our three-day conference to discuss issues of their choosing. We don’t select nor censor the content of their panels. There is a requirement of all of our participants: civility and decorum toward the host, participating organizations and our guests," said ACU Executive Director Gregg Keller in a statement to NBC News.
GOProud had previously participated at CPAC, but was uninvited this year and last year, sparking controversy among gay-right supporters. CPAC Chair Al Cardenas said in an interview last week that GOProud has acted inappropriately as guests in years past.