“Uncle Toms” Endorses Romney
October 23rd, 2012
Over the weekend, it looked like Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign might have cracked the door open a tiny bit on marriage equality when senior campaign advisor Pat Buchanan said that Romney “very much supports traditional marriage, but he’s also a very strong advocate for the Tenth Amendment. It’s a state issue.” That seemed to signal a move toward a more moderate position, one in conflict with Romney’s previously stated support for the Federal Marriage Amendment which would have the effect of overriding the Tenth Amendment when it comes to marriage equality. Chris Geidner noticed that late Saturday afternoon and wondered if this signaled a change in Romney’s position on the FMA. His post was up at Buzzfeed for all of an hour before he updated it to reflect a clarification by campaign advisor Bay Buchanan:
“Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the Tenth Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits – not marriage.”
And so it is against that backdrop that this email landed in my inbox this morning:
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.”
A bit of history is instructive. In 2000, members of the gay community met with then-Gov. George W. Bush, who didn’t make any specific promises but pledged to listen to our concerns. As governor of Texas, he had built a reputation for working across party lines (it would only be as President that he would take the “my way or the highway” approach to governing) and so those gay Republican leaders came away from that meeting taking Bush at his word. The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed him in 2000.
But in 2004, when Bush was campaigning in support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Log Cabin Republicans stood on principle and refused to endorse him, specifically calling out Bush’s support for FMA in their announcement. Instead of an endorsement, they left it to individual members to decide on their own how and whether they wanted to support Bush’s re-election. That stand was not without cost; a small Republican-above-all-else faction within LCR broke away to form GOPRound, and that group has been hobnobbing with the likes of Ann Coulter ever since.
In 2008, LCR pointed to Sen. John McCain’s vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment as part of their justification for endorsing him against then-Sen. Barack Obama. LCR ignored McCain’s support for California’s Prop 8 and Arizona’s Prop 102, but with his opposition to the FMA, it appeared that LCR’s principled stand in 2004 was intact.
But with this endorsement, whatever principles that LCR might have had have now been shattered into a million little pieces. “We Are Americans First,” proclaims the LCR email this morning in an insulting headline that tells us that gay couples who want to marry and build a family are lesser Americans than others.
While it is unlikely that a Federal Marriage Amendment will make it out of Congress anytime soon, it is a certainty that a Romney Justice Department will relieve the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Committee of its $1.5 million-and-rising chore of defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage’s five-point pledge, point three of which was to “defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court” and the fifth point was to work to roll back the District of Columbia’s marriage equality law. Romney is also running on what is arguably the most overtly homophobic Republican Party platform in history, a platform that LCR had already embarrassed themselves when they tried to whitewash it in their press release.
What makes the LCR’s move so craven is that there is a very good possibility that Section 3 of DOMA might be declared unconstitutional within the next year, and a similarly good possibility that almost a third of Americans will live in a state that grants marriage equality. This year might effectively be the FMA’s last gasp as a rallying cry, just as the repeal of DADT is now largely conceded to be a done deal. There is a possibility that 2012 might be the last year in which they would have had to take what would have been seen by future Republicans as both a principled and prescient stand for the American families that they claim to represent. Instead, LCR sold those families out for a pat on the head and little else, revealing them as the partisan hacks they truly are.
Nearly two months ago, Rep. Barney Frank stirred a hornet’s nest when he called LCR “Uncle Toms.” That’s a serious charge, one that caused a lot of consternation within the gay community. We can still argue over whether that is a fair characterization, but that argument now is overshadowed by this endorsement which will go down as a shameful moment for LCR. Truly shameful. But hey, maybe Ann Coulter can now be their new bestest friend forever.