CONSERVATIVES FEAR GAY COOTIES AT CPAC…. In February, the Conservative Political Action Conference will get underway in D.C., and because CPAC has become the right-wing event of the year, heavy hitters from the conservative movement and the Republican Party are anxious to be a part of it.

Indeed, 2011 should be an especially big year for CPAC — emboldened GOP leaders will be on hand to boast about their right-wing agenda, and a legion of likely presidential candidates will be on hand to kiss the base’s ring. The turnout should be huge.

Some major religious right groups, however, will boycott this year’s conference. Apparently, if gay conservatives are allowed to participate at CPAC, religious right groups feel compelled to stay away.

Two of the nation’s premier moral issues organizations, the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America, are refusing to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in February because a homosexual activist group, GOProud, has been invited.

“We’ve been very involved in CPAC for over a decade and have managed a couple of popular sessions. However, we will no longer be involved with CPAC because of the organization’s financial mismanagement and movement away from conservative principles,” said Tom McClusky, senior vice president for FRCAction.

“CWA has decided not to participate in part because of GOProud,” CWA President Penny Nance told WND.

FRC and CWA join the American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage in withdrawing from CPAC.

If this seems vaguely familiar, there was a minor dust-up last year, when GOProud participated in CPAC for the first time, but the anti-gay pushback didn’t go very far.

But the boycott of the 2011 event is obviously much larger and encompasses far more organizations. What’s more, some of these right-wing groups are pretty notable — no one much cares if something called the “American Principles Project,” which few have ever heard of, skips CPAC, but entities like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage actually matter in conservative politics.

And as far as they’re concerned, they find gay conservatives so offensive, they can’t stand the thought of even being at the same conference with them.

There’s long been an ideological spectrum of modern conservative thought, including subsets like libertarians, neocons, paleocons, Birchers, and theocrats. But for these religious right groups boycotting CPAC, there’s apparently a rule: if you’re gay, you can’t be conservative.

Postscript: As long as we’re on the subject, some of you might be wondering why a group like GOProud even exists, and what its policy agenda might look like. Apparently, GOProud considers the estate tax “a gay tax,” and would prefer to combat hate crimes by expanding gun ownership.

No, I really can’t relate to the conservative worldview, either.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.