Why Is Microsoft Sponsoring the Anti-Gay CPAC Conference?

As we noted yesterday, the American Conservative Union, which runs the annual CPAC conference, banned the gay conservative group GOProd for the second year in a row. They had previously been allowed to sponsor, and speak at, the conference. Meanwhile, CPAC has thrown open its doors to white nationalists and other extremists.

Last year’s CPAC featured three prominent white nationalists, including Bob Vandervoort. This year, his anti-immigrant group ProEnglish is supporting, and participating at, CPAC as an exhibitor. And it late February, the ACU posted an article by yet another white nationalist on its website. It begins to make you wonder.

As we also noted yesterday, ProEnglish isn’t the only controversial sponsor this year. There’s also the Family Research Council, which is designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Accuracy in Media, whose director recently praised the GOProud ban and called for a CPAC panel on “the dangers of the homosexual movement and why some of its members seem prone to violence, terror, and treason.”

I could go on, but the name that really stands out among the list of sponsors, just to the right of Liberty University, is Microsoft, the gay-friendly software giant. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Microsoft shouldn’t sponsor political events or work with both sides of the aisle. That’s all fine by me. But CPAC, at least right now, is different.

CPAC has a segregated – straights-only – sponsorship policy. Meanwhile it’s taking money from, and giving a platform to, white nationalists and anti-gay extremists. Microsoft, as a mainstream and purportedly gay-friendly company that serves the general public and strives to be socially responsible, has no business bankrolling CPAC in its current form.

Microsoft was an exhibitor at least year’s CPAC, and this year they’re a co-sponsor. They also hosted last year’s CPAC Blog Bash at their Washington, DC headquarters, which recognized Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe, seen here mugging in front of the Microsoft logo:

I’ve been wondering why Microsoft would get so involved with an anti-gay, right-wing conference like CPAC. Then I read in Lee Fang’s report today at The Nation that ACU board member Suhail Khan is affiliated with Microsoft. (Khan, by the way, is the board member that the Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer love to hate and got themselves banned for attacking).

As it turns out, Khan isn’t just a run-of-the-mill Microsoft employee. He’s the Director of External Affairs for the company’s Washington, DC headquarters and lobbying shop (the so-called Innovation and Policy Center). He’s clearly able to use his position to aid his extracurricular activities, so to speak.

It must be said that Khan has made earnest efforts to overcome intolerance, which is why Geller and company despise him. Just the same, Microsoft should think twice about following his lead on CPAC.

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