Washington (CNN) - Organizers for the Conservative Political Action Conference are downplaying the fact several socially conservative groups have boycotted the event this year.
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a major organizer of CPAC, told reporters Thursday "our mission is to bring everyone together."
The boycotts are a in part the result of CPAC's decision to include GOProud – a pro-gay rights group. GOProud says it does not take a position on same-sex marriage considering it a matter for the states. The group says it is "committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy."
"Regardless of who is upset...we cover all of these issues," said Keene.
Such leading social conservative groups as the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation and individuals, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) decided not to participate because of GOProud's presence.
"It is their right," Keene said but added he had no regrets.
Meanwhile, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, defended his decision to skip the event.
"You know sometimes it's better to take a principled stand on conservative corporate principles and that's what you see happening here," he added. "And it's not just social conservatives by the way. You have organizations like Heritage that are not participating, not simply over this one issue but because of the drift."
"What's made the coalition of conservatives successful is not that everybody shares every view identically but they respect one another's views and do not work at cross-purposes. What we have here, in this CPAC, are some conservatives that are really more libertarians than conservatives working at cross-purposes with some in the movement and that is very dangerous to the conservative movement," he added.
This is the third year the Family Research Council has not taken part in CPAC because of differences with organizers.
Keene and other organizers pointed out that many conservatives used to support abortion rights and have now reversed their positions - a sign they said that the movement can embrace a wide range of views.