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GOP gay-rights group makes voice heard at CPAC

Gay Republican groups like GOProud were not invited to the Conservative Political Action Convention this year, but that didn’t stop them from making an impact at the annual confab. 

Speaking in a tiny but packed conference room just down the hall from the main CPAC stage, GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia urged activists to help the group broaden its reach within the Republican Party. 

“How can we build a new, modern coalition that can win? Well, we bring together conservatives and libertarians and social conservatives and everyone who shares our vision of a government that puts freedom first,” he said. “Millions of Americans, including gay Americans, will join us if we ask them and welcome them.” 

The other speakers at the panel discussion, sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which hosted GOProud as their guest at CPAC, said GOProud and similar groups have demographics on their side, citing statistics showing a majority of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage. 

LaSalvia also emphasized that pro-gay GOP activists should not reject Republicans who oppose same-sex marriage -- but he did skewer those within the party who he said “just don’t like gay people.” 

“And in 2013, that’s just not OK in America anymore. Because gay people are in every family. Every community. Every circle of friends,” he said. 

NBC's Kasie Hunt contributed to this article.