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CPAC 2012 -- less divisive, more inclusive, than ever!

Correction: Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg's comments on February 6 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor" were mischaracterized by author Kevin McCullough in the original version of this piece. The quote used by McCullough should have said, "On the Feb. 6 edition of 'The Factor,' Goldberg asserted '...there is a strain of bigotry -- and that's the word I want to use -- running through conservative America. It doesn't mean all conservatives are bigots or even that most conservatives are bigots. That's not what I'm saying. But there is a strain of bigotry, and it goes against gay people, for instance.'" The author mistakenly stated that Goldberg claimed that JC Penney was bigoted against DeGeneres. This is untrue. In his appearance on "The Factor" Goldberg states that some conservatives, not the store, are bigoted against homosexuals.

Responding to an appearance by author and Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg on the February 6 edition of "The O'Reilly Factor," author, Republican and fellow Fox News contributor Margaret Hoover expressed concern that this year's CPAC conference in Washington D.C., was crossing a line into an ugly arena. In her mind CPAC 2012 has become an expression of hate.

Hoover's words were misguided, inaccurate, and flat out false.

Hoover tied Goldberg's commentary on the issue of JC Penney and the retailer's decision not to fire actress Ellen DeGeneres as spokesperson to this year's CPAC gathering because the issue of homosexuality appears to be connected to both. 

Goldberg asserted bigotry by some conservatives after the Million Moms called on JC Penney to fire DeGeneres as spokesperson. 

On the February 6 broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor" Goldberg said, "'...there is a strain of bigotry -- and that's the word I want to use -- running through conservative America. It doesn't mean all conservatives are bigots or even that most conservatives are bigots. That's not what I'm saying. But there is a strain of bigotry, and it goes against gay people, for instance.'"

Hoover takes this completely unrelated scenario and then, in her opinion piece projects an air of homophobic atmosphere over the events of CPAC 2012. 

She does so based on the exclusion of one participating group from the previous year -- a group called GOProud.

Hoover then makes the outrageous claim that some conservatives believe that persons can't "be" conservative and engage in homosexual behavior.

Hoover's first mistake is with the use of the verb. People aren't conservative "beings." They make choices to choose the ideas they support. And after having known many people who identify themselves as conservatives over the course of my life, I have yet to find two who believe exactly the same thing on all issues.

People also aren't homosexual "beings" either. At least not any more than they are people who choose to have sex before marriage, people who choose to have sex outside of marriage, people who choose to watch pornography, or people who choose any number of other sexual behaviors other than monogamous marriage for life.

The truth is GOProud--while on its surface attempted to portray itself as harmless to the conservative cause--actually had a track record from the previous two years of being somewhat disruptive at CPAC. Both in its agenda and in its presence at the conference.

Hoover also claims that CPAC in 2012 is now "triumphantly homosexual-free" but alas she is again gravely mistaken.

For how would she know?

Hoover pretends in her argument that conservatism -- as it has been understood politically in recent years -- is strictly an economic set of principals. But the truth is, it is not and will never be divorced from a moral code that undergirds such principals.

The modern conservative movement is comprised of three primary groups: economic conservatives, social issue conservatives, and national defense conservatives. Hoover clearly believes that the first group of people are the only ones who qualify.

The truth is genuine conservatives have no interest in going into people's bedrooms and seeing what they do in private. 

Conservatives embrace principals that place responsibility for one's success on the individual, that wish to remove barriers to that success from the path of it, that seek to acknowledge there exists a need for a strong national defense, and that seek to acknowledge that there is a moral rationale for the rights that we are divinely given.

Margaret Hoover seemed to have confused Republican "partisanism" with conservatism and truth be told they are worlds apart.

Like Ms. Hoover I have also been invited to speak at CPAC, for the last four years, and was a faithful long-time participant prior to that.

This year the face of CPAC--especially with the ex-communication of the libertarian anarchists from last year--will be one that espouses conservative beliefs, and will welcome all who hold them.

And despite Ms. Hoover thinks, conservatives will not be checking boxes to see what race, gender, or sexual activity you prefer before assigning you your seat in the room.

And that's the way it should be!

Kevin McCullough is the nationally syndicated host of "The Kevin McCullough Show" weekdays (7-9 am ET) & "Baldwin/McCullough Radio" Saturdays (9-11pm ET) on 289 radio stations. His latest book is "No He Can't: How Barack Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change" (Thomas Nelson).