In registration packets for the Western Conservative Summit, which attracted seven presidential contenders and 4,000 delegates to Denver over the weekend, conference goers received a booklet titled, “Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality,” published by the Family Research Council.
The “myths” included that “homosexual conduct is not harmful to one’s physical health,” “children raised by homosexuals are no different than children raised by heterosexuals, nor do they suffer harm,” and “homosexual relationships are just the same as heterosexual ones, except for the gender of the partners.”
The presence of this anti-gay propaganda in the official conference registration materials is no surprise to political observers. Summit organizers have made no secret of their anti-gay stance.
In fact, a couple months before the event, members of the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP gay rights advocacy group, was told by summit organizers that their organization would not be allowed to have a booth at the conference, even though they’d already paid for it.
In an email to the group, John Andrews, president of Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute, the sponsor of the summit, informed the Log Cabin Republicans that its “worldview and policy agenda” is “fundamentally at odds with what Colorado Christian University stands for, so it’s just not a fit.”
After the rescinded invitation generated national media coverage, the Colorado Republican Party announced it would share its table at the summit with the Log Cabin Republicans, allowing the group’s members to promote their organization at the exhibit hall without having their own booth.
Summit organizers did not object to this arrangement.
On Saturday, sitting at a table space with the Colorado Republican Party activists, William Windler, a volunteer with the Colorado chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, told Rewire that conference attendees showed “a lot of curiosity” about his organization, and “no one has come up here and said you’re a bunch of lunatics.”
Asked why he’d try to force himself on a group that doesn’t want him, Windler said, “I think it’s important for people to stand up for their beliefs and human dignity—and for Republican ideas. There are important issues that need to be talked about: education, defense, taxes. Who a person loves has nothing to do with that.”
Windler would not characterize himself as pro-choice, though he said he favored abortion in certain circumstances.
“When I heard about that the invitation was revoked, it was a disappointment because we are Republicans,” Windler said. “And if conservatives want to win elections, it’s important that as many people as possible are brought into the tent. If numerous small sub-populations are alienated, the pretty soon you have a lot of people and you won’t win elections.”
Away from the table shared by the Log Cabin Republicans, conference goers were at best divided, if not hostile, to gay rights, with many speakers objecting to last week’s Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality.
Presidential hopefuls at the summit, including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, all denounced the Supreme Court’s action.
“I have nothing against gay people,” Carson said at a plenary session, echoing the sentiments of summit organizers when they rejected the Log Cabin Republicans in April. “Like everybody else, they don’t get extra rights. And they don’t get to change things for everybody else.”