Last week, the Western Conservative Summit, which according to the Denver Post is becoming an increasingly influential conference with major players within the Republican Party (speakers like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker are confirmed for this year), gained some attention. The summit uninvited the Colorado chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay conservatives who push for traditionally conservative ideas and policy, while also advocating for gay rights.
Colorado Christian University is affiliated with the Centennial Institute, which sponsors the event. Rescinding the invitation was explained by the institute director and summit chairman, citing that CCU does not believe that gay marriage should be the law of the land, and the Log Cabin Republicans think it should be. According to the chairman, “the Log Cabin Republicans exist to redefine the family.”
It is understood by all parties that because the summit is a private event, there is no question that they can choose who should be able to attend and who shouldn’t. While they have a right to associate with whomever they would like, what is troubling is that the leaders of the conference decided that even though gay marriage is a rising issue, it did not deserve acknowledgement.
It is one thing for an organization to not support a certain issue or side of an argument, but it is entirely another to ignore the voice of those who oppose you. To exclude the Log Cabin Republicans from this conference is a slap in the face to all who are having constructive conversations about gay marriage, especially when the conversations are between those of differing opinions.
As for political implications, considering the incredible movement towards supporting gay marriage, it’s astounding that certain conservatives are still unwilling to even recognize gay marriage as something important enough to talk about. Many are ignoring the issue, and since 61 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 support gay marriage, continued dramatic actions like this will alienate young voters. This is not the entirety of the party, but it is a chunk of it, and ultimately is the future of the party.
Impressively, the Colorado Republican Party has offered to share their booth with the Log Cabin Republicans. This does shine some hope the Republican Party understands that the general public seems to be leaning in support of gay marriage rights and is open and willing to have that conversation. This is a big step forward.
No matter how unreasonable someone may think someone else’s belief may be, that person has to accept the other has the right to think it. Oftentimes, we can accept that and move on without much trouble.
But when large differences arise that are personal, and subsequently come with strong opinions, and the issue becomes as large as gay marriage has become, it is then imperative that we are open to communication about the subject. That is the only way people can ever reach a resolution.
It’s important to remember that we are just people — people with thoughts, beliefs and opinions that are all different in their own way. The only way we can work around that is by staying respectful, being open to new ideas and to not continually shut something out simply because we don’t like it.
Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @alexstetts.