I couldn’t attend CPAC this year, but one of the most talked about events coming out of this year’s conference was a panel titled: “Putin’s Russia: A New Cold War?” (Anti-interventionism, it seems, didn’t fare well at CPAC this year.)
The discussion featured potential presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Cliff May from the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies, Amanda Bellows from UNC Chapel Hill, and Gregory Angelo, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. (Angelo was added to the panel as a sort of compromise after controversy erupted over whether or not the group would be granted permission to participate in the conference — other than just as an attendee).
If the inclusion of a gay rights group sounds like a bit of a non-sequitur, Angelo likes to say the LCR represents the full spectrum of political issues (the Log Cabin Republicans, Angelo reminds me, were founded to support Ronald Reagan, who “spoke out boldly” against the Briggs Initiative).
Moreover, Angelo’s inclusion actually made perfect sense; LCR has, for years, been speaking out publicly against Putin’s anti-gay laws.
And it was a hit. As Dave Weigel reported, the room was “overflowing,” which (in fairness) could have something to do with Fiorina’s presence, the fact that Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov had been murdered in Moscow the day before the event — and/or the fact that LCR was participating.
But if the timing of this year’s CPAC helped foster a sort of CPAC détente, the world continues to provide reasons for an unlikely alliance. After beheading 21 Christian martyrs last month, just yesterday, it was reported that ISIS militants hurled a man accused of being gay to his death.
“There’s opening for conservatives to show sympathy compassion to the gay community by taking a stand against human rights abuses perpetuated on the gay community abroad,” Angelo told me during a phone call Thursday.
Noting the existence of common adversaries in both Putin and ISIS, Angelo continued: “While we can have philosophic differences on something like marriage equality, there’s an opportunity to take a stand against people being targeted for their faith and their sexual orientation.”
He might be optimistic, but Angelo believes this is a special moment where there’s “an opportunity for Republicans to get ahead of Democrats on this issue.” I suppose there’s always a first time for everything.