DENVER — The Supreme Court’s decision in favor of gay marriage made it all but impossible for the Log Cabin Republicans to fly under the radar at their first-ever booth appearance at the Western Conservative Summit.
“It’s been an interesting few days, to be sure,” said Travis Taylor, a member of the gay Republican group’s Denver chapter who was manning its shared table Sunday morning.
But in a good way. “I thought it would an interesting weekend, but everyone I’ve spoken to here has just been interested in talking intelligently about the decision,” he said.
Many of the 4,000 conservatives attending the sixth annual summit wanted to talk to Log Cabin representatives about the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling, and almost without fail they were “absolutely polite,” Mr. Taylor said.
“With really just one exception that I can think of, everyone here has been just fantastic,” Mr. Taylor said. “They’ve made it clear that they’re happy we’re here.”
Organizers of the summit, sponsored by the Centennial Institute and Colorado Christian University, touched off a brouhaha in April after declining Log Cabin’s application for exhibitor status, citing the organization’s position in favor of same-sex marriage.
The flap was squelched when the Colorado Republican Party invited Log Cabin to share its booth space.
Centennial Institute director John Andrews said the issue arose “when some people failed to understand that a Christian college is not inclined or obligated to sell advertising space to a group that wants to advocate against its core biblical faith.”
“Consequently, the advocacy of gay marriage, no matter how it would become law, by Log Cabin Republicans disqualified them as an exhibitor,” Mr. Andrews said.
At the same time, he said he wasn’t surprised to learn that Log Cabin had received a friendly reception from conservatives even amid the furor over the Supreme Court decision.
“A love-your-neighbor spirit prevailed during the summit. We were confident that it would,” Mr. Andrews said.
He pointed out that the summit routinely welcomes gay attendees and speakers. Conservative talk-radio host Guy Benson, a summit regular, spoke at this year’s event and then signed copies of his newly released book with Mary Katharine Ham, “End of Discussion” (Crown, 2015).
Mr. Benson disclosed last month in the book that he was gay, after he had been invited to the summit, but Mr. Andrews said it made no difference.
“If we had suddenly said ‘Oh, you’re gay, you’re not welcome on our platform,’ we would have been participating in the very end-of-discussion syndrome, the shutdown of open debate and exchange of differing views, that his and Mary Katharine’s book seeks to protect,” Mr. Andrews said.
Much of the outrage over the gay marriage decision has centered on what critics have decried as the Supreme Court’s usurping of the roles of legislatures, states and the people. Even some Republicans who back same-sex marriage were less than thrilled with how the case was decided.
“There are competing opinions about the Supreme Court decision even among young Republicans who support gay marriage,” Mr. Taylor said. “There are people who say it should have been left to the states, and those who are just glad it’s over.”
As for Log Cabiners, “We are happy in general that gay marriage has been legalized. At the same time, we’re Republicans and we have Republican views. We don’t want to force our opinions on people,” he said.
Log Cabin president Gregory T. Angelo issued a statement Friday encouraging “marriage equality advocates to resist the temptation of being ‘sore winners’ and respecting others who may not yet be at a place of acceptance.”