Gay Activist Leader at CPAC: Conservative Movement Has Image That 'They Hate Gays’

By Melanie Arter | March 18, 2013 | 3:04 PM EDT

Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder and president of the gay conservative group, GOProud (AP Photo)

( - Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder and president of the gay conservative group, GOProud, in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington, D.C., Thursday said that the conservative movement must combat the image that “they hate gays.”

“It’s truly about how people think, what people think conservatives think about gay people. And it’s an image that the conservative movement has that they hate gays,” LaSalvia said in an interview on the “Michelangelo Signorile Show” on SiriusXM radio.

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LaSalvia, who attended CPAC as a guest of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a CPAC sponsor, said the issue was “broader” than gay marriage. He warned that there could be a price to pay for excluding the gay community.

Although GOProud has been banned as an official sponsor of CPAC for the past two years, the Competitive Enterprise Institute hosted a panel on Thursday, which LaSalvia participated in called, “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.”

“Kicking us out of CPAC certainly doesn’t help, and the problem is you can’t change the world with great conservative policies if you don’t win elections, and people aren’t going to vote for you if they think that you hate their family and friends,” LaSalvia said.

“How do we build a winning conservative coalition going forward that recognizes the world we’re living in, in 2013, that has gay people living openly and honestly and has gay people in every single family? And so, that’s a broader issue than just marriage equality. It’s about do you fundamentally respect my loved one?” LaSalvia added.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about one percent of all couple households in 2010 were same-sex couples.