Bil Browning

Log Cabin Issues Two Starkly Different Romney Endorsements

Filed By Bil Browning | October 23, 2012 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Clarke Cooper, gay Republicans, GOProud, Log Cabin Republicans, Romney endorsement

After dillydallying around for months, Log Cabin Republicans have announced their endorsement of Mitt Romney for President. Strangely enough, the gay Republican group has posted two differing copies of the endorsement. One calls it a "qualified endorsement" and suggests they won't actively work for the campaign while the blast sent to the press removes that language.

Thumbnail image for Pink ElephantIn the copy posted on their website, the group announces a qualified endorsement.

After long consideration, weighing input from our members and chapters, and dialogue with the Mitt Romney campaign and the candidate, the National Board of Directors of the Log Cabin Republicans have elected to issue a qualified endorsement for Governor Romney for president.

The qualified nature of this endorsement means that Log Cabin Republicans will be most active in our support for House and Senate candidates. Our membership base and network of chapters nationwide will be actively supporting our allies in Congress as part of the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Operation Rolling Surge" deployment program.

Our greatest efforts will be directed at electing pro-equality leaders like Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the first Republican to cosponsor the repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act... While many of our members will also be working hard on behalf of Governor Romney, growing the pro-equality Republican presence in the House and Senate is our highest electoral priority this year.

The version sent to the press doesn't include that language. It only includes a tailored version of the first paragraph and omits the information that the group will not actively work to support the Romney campaign.

After careful consideration and consultation with our members and chapters, as well as communication with Mitt Romney and his campaign team, the National Board of Directors of the Log Cabin Republicans has elected to endorse Governor Romney for president.

Log Cabin ran ads against Romney in 2008 pointing out his "Mitt flops" and admit in the longer version that they think Romney is pandering to the religious right with his anti-gay pledges. So why is the group hiding their reservations about Mitt Romney and announcing support?

The answer is after the break.

In 2004, Log Cabin refused to endorse George W. Bush over his support for a federal marriage amendment. Mitt Romney has signed a pledge from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage that he will "support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification" and will implement a McCarthy-esque investigation into the LGBT community for "harassing Christians."

In a section of the "qualified endorsement" entitled "Regarding the governor's signature on the National Organization for Marriage pledge during the Republican primaries," the group admits that Romney's pledge has caused some consternation. This portion is also omitted from the version e-mailed to members of the press.

While even the suggestion of enshrining discrimination in our nation's most precious document is deeply offensive, there is a significant difference between a valid threat and an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency. In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement from an otherwise qualified candidate, particularly given the gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake.

Log Cabin endorsed Senator John McCain in his 2008 presidential bid citing his opposition to a federal marriage amendment. The group also ran ads supporting McCain and attacking Romney for his constantly changing positions on important issues during the 2008 primary season.

On the issue of marriage equality, Log Cabin seems to tacitly endorse Romney's pandering and "Mitt flops." So why is the group knuckling under to endorse Mitt Romney - whether "qualified" or not? They're doing some flip flopping of their own.

LCR Executive Director Clarke Cooper sits on the RNC's finance committee. It's his job to help the GOP raise needed cash for federal elections and in a presidential cycle both the DNC and RNC focus like a laser on the presidential election. There is simply no way possible for Cooper to continue to serve in a high profile position as the party's highest openly gay member without a Romney endorsement. If his own organization refuses to endorse Mitt Romney, how can Cooper make the case to potential donors that they should support a candidate his own group has dismissed?

Another worry for the group has been the rise of GOProud, an even more conservative gay Republican group backing the Republican Party. GOProud has endorsed several candidates this cycle who are actively anti-gay and regularly associates with virulent homophobes like Ann Coulter and Bay Buchanan. GOProud's published "Core Beliefs and Tenets" does not include advancing any pro-LGBT legislation and instead focuses on tax reform and dismantling Obamacare.

GOProud has been touting the fact that they were the only gay Republican group to endorse the Romney campaign and pundits were starting to wonder if Log Cabin would actually give the candidate their endorsement.

National Stonewall Democrats started a petition in February urging Log Cabin to withhold their support for a decidedly anti-gay presidential candidate. The campaign was later copied by other organizations like American Bridge and Courage Campaign who teamed up to create the "Mitt Gets Worse" action also aimed at pressuring the gay Republican group into doing what's best for the LGBT community.

"It's a disgrace. A once venerated and decent organization has become a shell of itself blithely pandering to the least common denominator," said National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis. "This is politics at its worst - when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals. There is little doubt that Clarke Coooper's position on the RNC finance committee played a major role in this decision. Of course, so did their blinding fear of GOProud nipping at their heels."

"So there you have it - the Log Cabin Republicans, who screamed loudly and forcefully for months that liberal groups and LGBT movement posturing weren't going to affect their endorsements have instead allowed the interests of money sucking GOP insiders and the fear of a conservative performance troupe to decide their endorsement for them," he continued. "It's reprehensible. Have they no decency?"

(Note: Jerame Davis is the longtime partner of the author.)

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