Log Cabin’s disappointing endorsement
October 23rd, 2012
Log Cabin Republicans has endorsed Mitt Romney for president. While it is a “qualified endorsement”, I’m not certain that it is either deserved or wise.
I share the organization’s frustrations with President Obama. The economic condition of our nation is lamentable and the president’s policies do not align with what I believe to be sound economic theory or principled fiscal responsibility. I do not share his views about the international role of our nation and his priorities are not my own. The three debates have left me convinced that he has no solution and will, at best, be a placeholder until someone better and wiser can be elected.
But LCR did not issue a “not Obama” endorsement. They have endorsed Mitt Romney. And while he is no Rick Santorum, he has not impressed me as a man of vision and firm principles.
LCR rightly notes that Romney’s pledge and pander to the National Organization for Marriage is no indication that if elected Romney would push for a federal marriage amendment. Nor would he seek to reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
But Mitt Romney likely would instruct the Justice Department to defend DOMA (should it still be in the courts) and would reverse a number of policy positions that impact gay federal employees. And these decisions would not only be harmful to LGBT Americans, they would harm the nation. They would continue the divisive and destructive culture war and diminish our standing in the world.
There is within Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement statement one sentence that gives me hope; they state that the endorsement is not free.
While “not free” can mean most anything, within this organization’s history it has been a literal term. LCR has negotiated with campaign’s in previous years to move the Republican Party outside its comfort zone: policy positions, speakers at the national convention, campaign language. These have been trades that have been of substantial substance and required clearance at the highest level.
So it is possible that LCR has negotiated with the candidate for something beneficial to our community. It’s late in the game, so I can’t imagine what could be the issue – and I may never know. So this is for me little more than a vague hope to give small comfort to a disappointment.
The text of the endorsement:
Log Cabin Republicans Endorse Mitt Romney for President
We Are Americans First
Presidential endorsements are serious business. The decision to say, “we stake our name and our reputation” on a candidate’s worthiness for the nation’s highest office says as much about an organization’s principles as it does the candidate.
As the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of LGBT Americans and their allies, Log Cabin Republicans work within the GOP to make the conservative case for pro-equality policies and legislation. Since Log Cabin’s founding in the late 1970s, we have believed in a simple idea: building a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party requires Republicans reaching out to Republicans.
The freedom to work without fear of discrimination, the freedom to serve in our nation’s military, and the freedom to marry are all issues of vital importance. As we considered our endorsement decision, we did not degrade these issues as irrelevant, nor did we overlook the harm that is done to the Republican brand when our standard-bearers appear to be caught up in an outdated culture war.
But as we condemn the aspects of the GOP platform which work to exclude our families, we are still able to cheer the vision for America which was presented in Tampa, where 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.
We believe that President Obama has broken his promises to our country. Rather than focusing on job creation, he pushed through an extremely partisan, expensive and intrusive healthcare bill, presided over a United States credit downgrade, and has made no credible attempt to cut spending as our national debt has topped $16 trillion. Our nation is in a financial crisis, and we are in desperate need of a change in course.
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.
Significance of a Qualified Endorsement
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; members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus like Representatives Nan Hayworth and Richard Hanna of New York; and staunchly pro-equality challengers like Linda McMahon of Connecticut and our very own Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, who will become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. 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.
Regarding the governor’s signature on the National Organization for Marriage pledge during the Republican primaries
From the day Governor Romney signed this pledge, Log Cabin has been outspoken in our opposition to this exercise in an outdated politics of division. Even with this endorsement, we will continue to voice our disagreement with any call for a constitutional amendment federalizing a definition of marriage that excludes LGBT families.
However, 2012 is not 2004. The Federal Marriage Amendment has been voted on twice, and each time has failed with bipartisan opposition. Marriage equality is now the law in six states and the District of Columbia, and polls consistently show a slim but growing majority of Americans supporting the freedom to marry. Even among Republicans, support for the freedom to marry is growing. Particularly in today’s economic climate, there is simply no appetite to pass or even seriously consider any such amendment.
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.
There has been discussion about whether we, as members of Log Cabin Republicans, are LGBT first or Republican first. Ultimately, we believe the answer is neither. We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country.
Our endorsement of Mitt Romney is not free. We commit, here and now, that we will work with the party as we are able, and challenge the party as it is necessary, to ensure that it lives up to its highest ideals of limited government and individual freedom.The Log Cabin Republicans motto is “inclusion wins.” If LGBT Americans are serious about winning equality for all, rather than merely playing politics, Republicans must be part of the team.