(Updated 10:57am) With two weeks to go before the Nov. 6 elections, LGBT politicos from both political parties have been anxiously awaiting the decision by the Log Cabin Republicans on whether they would endorse Republican Presidential contender Mitt Romney as Party loyalists or decline to endorse because Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) pledge to support a Federal Marriage Amendment to the US Constitution and promised to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court, among other antigay positions? Tuesday morning, Oct. 23, LCR decided Mitt was their man. LCR said in a press release:
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.
"The decision to endorse is the right one for our members, our community, and for the nation as a whole," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director, R. Clarke Cooper. "Despite our disagreement with Governor Romney on the issue of marriage, on balance it is clear that in today's economic climate, concern for the future of our country must be the highest priority. We are Republicans, and we agree with Governor Romney's vision for America in which success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity. On issues of particular concern to the LGBT community, we believe Governor Romney will move the ball forward compared to past Republican presidents. No matter who is in the White House, it is crucial our community always has a credible voice speaking out on behalf of LGBT Americans. Log Cabin Republicans will be that voice to President Mitt Romney."
The press release went on to include supportive quotes from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the first Republican to co-sponsor legislation to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, who was once Cooper’s boss. The release also included a positive statement from former George W. Bush administration Solicitor General and Romney campaign adviser Theodore Olson who said:
"Like the Log Cabin Republicans, I am proud to support Governor Romney for president, and I am proud to be an advocate for the freedom to marry. This endorsement speaks to Log Cabin's principled belief in equality for all Americans, and the pragmatic recognition that our nation is in need of new leadership. Getting our fiscal house in order is more than an economic imperative - it's a moral imperative. Gay or straight, Americans deserve a president who will secure a future for our children that doesn't leave them buried in debt."
The release directs readers to the LCR website for the full endorsement statement –which is actually different from that released to the general public. . In that statement, LCR says their endorsement is “qualified.” Here’s an excerpt:
If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate’s history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans.
We are confident that there will be no retreat from the significant gains we’ve made in recent years, most importantly on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” With regard to the LGBT issue most likely to reach the president’s desk and most vital to many in our community today – workplace nondiscrimination – we are persuaded that we can work with a Romney administration to achieve a desirable outcome. And for those people who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann. Otherwise, our decision would have been different.
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 response was fast and furious. Former openly gay Republican presidential nominee Fred Karger - who is a $100 LCR member with no plans to resign - said:
The Romney for President campaign has shown no interest in going after the significant lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender vote in this country, nor has it even sought the community's substantial financial resources. My personal belief is that until Mr, Romney disavows NOM's hateful anti-LGBT pledge he signed back in August 2011, I don't believe he is worthy of an endorsement.(Active duty official and LCR Executive Director R Clarke Cooper salutes President Obama after the President signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. White House photo)
LCR was instrumental in getting the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell passed in Congress by securing sufficient Republican votes and their federal lawsuit challenging DADT freaked out the Pentagon. Attorney Tom Carpenter, a former Marine Captain who worked on opposing the ban on open service said:
The qualified endorsement of Mitt Romney by the Log Cabin Republicans seems to suggest they will be actively supporting those Republicans who are running for office and favor LGBT rights, while just giving tepid approval of the party's presidential candidate. This is a middle ground and makes sense for a party and LGBT group which places the economy and financial security above personal freedom and equality guaranteed under the constitution.
Romney has said he will not revisit repeal of DADT. Unfortunately, we have seen him change his position on so many issues there is no assurance he will not cave in to pressure from the right wing of the Republican party on reinstating DADT or a complete ban. If that happens, we will see what the Log Cabin Republicans are really made of.
But not unexpectedly, most of the fury came the progressive camp. Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis was livid:
"The Log Cabin Republicans have proven once and for all that they are not an organization aligned with the LGBT movement. They are a Republican front group bumbling their way into fooling LGBT voters that it's OK to support a party that would legislate us back into the closet.
"Their endorsement of Mitt Romney isn't just shameful - it's insulting. Mitt Romney stands for nothing positive for LGBT people. He supports a federal marriage amendment (which was a reason for Log Cabin to refuse to endorse George W. Bush in 2004). He supports McCarthy-like investigations into our community for evidence of 'harassment of Christians'. He opposes the repeal of DOMA. He opposes ENDA. He's even said things as basic as the right to visit your sick or dying loved one in the hospital is a 'privilege' and not a right.
"On top of all of that, Mitt Romney is a liar. He has told so many untruths and changed his positions so many times throughout this campaign, how can Log Cabin - or anyone - trust a word he would say? A person with no moral compass goes whichever way the political winds blow. With Mitt Romney in charge of the ship of state, we would be a rudderless nation with nothing but luck to keep us from crashing into the rocky shore - and Log Cabin Republicans believes this is the best their party and our country can muster.
"It's a disgrace. A once venerated and decent organization has become a shell of itself blithely pandering to the least common denominator. 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.
"It's reprehensible. Have they no decency?"
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan pointed out a significant detail that makes the LCR endorsement important:
I’m not surprised that the Log Cabin Republicans have gone against the best interests of LGBT Americans in endorsing Mitt Romney. Responding to their rationalization would normally not be worth the time, but one of their attempts at self-justification deserves a response. Log Cabin claims, ‘Those who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann.’
The Log Cabin Republicans have willfully ignored everything Mitt Romney has said about the Supreme Court.
Romney has said that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are both adamantly opposed to protecting the rights of gay people under the Constitution. Both dissented in Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling that ended criminal sodomy laws. In his dissent, Scalia accused the Court’s majority of signing on to the ‘homosexual agenda.’ These are the kind of Justices that Mitt Romney has promised to nominate to the Supreme Court.
We can also look to Romney’s choice of Robert Bork to lead his judicial advisory committee, a clear signal that he’s ready to cede judicial nominations to the Religious Right. Bork has vehemently disagreed with every pro-gay rights decision the Supreme Court has ever made, and even claims that marriage equality will lead to ‘man-boy associations’ and ‘polygamy.’ This is who Romney has picked to advise him on judicial nominations.
Romney doesn’t just support amending the Constitution to prohibit marriage equality – an amendment that every justice would be obliged to enforce. Everything Romney has said about judicial nominations indicates that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will do lasting damage to the rights of all Americans – including LGBT people. No LGBT American or anyone who believes in equality should be fooled into thinking otherwise.
ThinkProgress has a terrific piece providing greater context to LCR’s endorsement - including noting that the endorsement is "a significant departure from 2008, when the group ran ads hitting Romney for his shift from moderation to severe conservativism and highlighted him as an example of what is wrong with the Republican Party." I am writing up an analysis for the upcoming issue of Frontiers. But as he does so often, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank spikes Romney’s attempts at moderation – including Romney’s failure to respond to Frank’s overture’s on ENDA – at the Courage Campaign’s Mitt Gets Worse site. And here he responds to the LCR endorsement: