DENVER (AP) — Organizers of a conservative conference in Denver this summer have told a gay Republican group it cannot have a booth at the event.
The Western Conservative Summit is scheduled for June in Denver, where thousands of conservative activists will gather to hear Republican presidential hopefuls like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen Rick Santorum speak. The event is organized by The Centennial Institute, a think tank affiliated with Colorado Christian University.
On Wednesday, the president of the Centennial Institute, John Andrews, said his group had returned a $250 registration fee that the Log Cabin Republicans had sent in to secure a booth at the three-day summit. Because the group advocates for gay marriage, it cannot have an official presence at an event that promotes traditional family structure, he said.
"We'd love to have them attend the summit and be in the discussion. But we have to draw the line at a formal relationship between two organizations with diametrically opposed policy beliefs," Andrews said.
It was the first time a gay Republican group had sought a booth at the annual gathering, he said.
Alexander Hornaday, vice president of The Colorado Log Cabin Republicans, said the group was stunned by the rejection.
"I think it's very shortsighted," Hornaday said. "What turns young people off from the right is a perception that the right is intolerant or anti-gay. This reinforces that perception."
The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group, used the conflict to pressure Walker. "As a potential candidate, Gov. Walker should lead by example and tell the organizers that he will pull out of this event unless they allow equal access to LGBT Republicans," spokesman Fred Sainz said.
The Walker campaign did not respond to a request for comment.