Lt. Dan Choi, Libertarian?

CPAC's new openness to gays and lesbians this year drew one unexpected attendee to the annual conservative confab: Lt. Dan Choi, the anti-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" activist who was famously arrested protesting the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Now, having spent the past year tangling with the Obama administration -- and won -- he's exploring his political leanings and finding that while his homosexuality may have made him an outsider, his military service gives him a lot in common with more conservative folk.

"All I know is I was born gay and I can choose what political party I'm party of," he told me when I bumped into him in the CPAC exhibitor's hall. "Gay people are angry with Obama," he observed.

"I didn't come to this last year because I thought it would be too controversial," he said. "So I decided to come this year-- when it's even more controversial."

Realistically, though, it was that very GOProud controversy over the role of gays at the conference that drew him to it. If conservatives were going to be open to gays coming to the gathering, he figured he should give them a shot, too.

And some of the booths were started to rub off on him, he said. "I am leaning libertarian," he observed. "I think gun control is using both hands and opening your eyes."

Attending the conference has been "surprising," he said. "It's fun."

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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