The Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, meeting in Washington, D.C. this weekend could have a big impact on which candidate the Republican Party selects to face President Barack Obama in 2012.
However, this year some prominent social conservatives chose not to attend the conference, because of the presence of one gay group.
CBN News Reporter Heather Sells discussed the fight in the state of Iowa to define marriage only between a man and a woman on the Feb. 11 edition of CBN News Channel's Morning News program. Click play to watch the interview.
The CPAC event resembles last year's conference in every detail. Yet, a closer look reveals an emerging split. Pro-family groups like Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, the American Family Association and others are not in attendance. They object to the presence of a gay conservative group at the meeting known as GOProud.
"Full conservatism must include economic conservatism, defense and the social conservative issues," said Andy Blom, executive director of the American Principles Project. "We are not a movement without morals and to allow a significant representation by a group that is diametrically opposed to core values is just not acceptable."
Yet, despite the outcry by prominent social conservative groups, most of the potential 2012 presidential contenders will be attending. One who declined an invitation was Sarah Palin, but as she suggested in an interview with CBN News last week, it was more a timing issue, not a boycott.
"I was a little taken aback this go around when I couldn't make it to this one either," she said. "And then there was a speculation will I either agree or disagree with some of the groups or issues that CPAC is discussing. It really is a matter of time for me."
"I look at participation in an event like CPAC or any other event along kind of in that same vein as the more information that people have the better," Palin added.
Social conservatives said they have been fighting especially hard recently to have their voices heard in the political arena. They pointed to how it took a lot of extra effort to get the House Republican leadership to even include social issues in their pledge to America.
Also, possible presidential contender Mitch Daniels said he wants to call a truce on social issues for awhile until the economy is back on track. The GOProud group told CBN News these social conservative groups are not seeing the big picture.
"The truth is the folks who don't want us at CPAC, isn't because of our policy positions," said Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud. "It's because we're gay. Period."
"It has nothing to do with our policy positions because our policy positions are the same as many many conservatives," he added.
That's not a message many social conservatives are buying into and it's led to a mini controversy this weekend at CPAC.
*Originally aired on Feb. 11, 2011.