Fred Karger, the openly gay Republican presidential candidate, held his own party at CPAC last night. Despite being barred from exhibiting or speaking at the conference, he kept his suite door open, set up an open bar and attracted a crowd of young Republicans and reporters.
He’s been on a roll recently, after his home state of California put his name on the ballot on Monday. He’s now on ballots in six states. But, at CPAC, he has been ignored.
“I’ll represent about 30 percent of the population on the ballot and this group won’t even rent me a booth,” said Karger, when I spoke to him at his party, “It’s the second year in a row. Last year, I didn’t take any action, but this year… I said, OK, I’m going to apply in November and get the early bird discount.”
Despite his best efforts, organizers from CPAC ignored him. He said the group told a Buzzfeed reporter they were sold out.
“I knew you couldn’t be sold out if you still had an early bird discount,” said Karger.
So in January he filed a discrimination complaint with the DC Human Rights Commission. On Friday morning, he met with the Human Rights Commission who is moving quickly with his complaint, according to Karger
“It goes next to mediation and CPAC is going to have to show up,” said Karger, who noted the commission has subpoena power.
He said if the commission sides with him then CPAC will have to allow gay people at their convention next year, which has been booked at the DC convention center, or they’re going to have to move to another location that doesn’t have a discrimination policy.
“I’m not settling for anything less than that,” said Karger.
Last year, CPAC angered some of its large sponsors like the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and Liberty University after it allowed GOProud, the gay Republican organization, to have a booth at the conference for the second year in a row. But after a change in leadership from David Keene, who defended GOProud’s presence, to Al Cardenas, they changed their policy. This year, CPAC sent GOProud a letter in July of 2011 informing them they would not be invited to participate in formal events for CPAC 2012.
Karger said taking a strong stance against gay rights is not helping the Republican Party.
“We’re a minority party, we need younger people, we need new blood, we’re going to be going the way of the dinosaurs,” said Karger, who hopes the party will be more inclusive.
He said the number one reason he’s running for president is to open the door for future gay candidates, “so they don’t have to have their fingers slammed in the door for no reason.”
Then he got back to his party, where unlike CPAC, Karger invited everyone. Around 11 p.m. the party was crowded and guests were jovial.
But then a couple of hotel security guards came and shut it down.
“This party is over,” said the large man wearing a fake police badge that said Marriott Security.