January 15, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Anti-gay evangelical leaders back Santorum

The anti-gay Family Research Council and a group of evangelical leaders are endorsing Republican Rick Santorum for president, reflecting the unease among some social conservatives with the prospect of Mitt Romney’s nomination.

On Saturday, Tony Perkins, FRC’s president, announced Santorum had won the backing of the nearly 170 conservative leaders who gathered in Brenham, Texas, to discuss the GOP primary race and top policy goals for a Republican administration.

“There is clearly a united group here that is committed to see … a true conservative elected to the White House,” Perkins said after the decision was made, according to Reuters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed the Family Research Council a “hate group” in part because of its opposition to LGBT rights. Other anti-gay leaders who were present at the meeting — and backing Santorum — were Gary Bauer and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania won the endorsement on the third round of balloting, Politico reported. Of the 114 votes cast, Santorum won 85. Former U.S. House Speaker  Newt Gingrich took the remainder.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn’t even make it past the first round of balloting — even though the meeting was held in his home state and he’s heavily courted evangelicals since the beginning of his campaign.

While campaigning before the New Hampshire primary, Santorum said the legalization of same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy and said children would be better off with parents in prison rather than parents of the same gender. Santorum has also said he’d reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if elected president.

Meanwhile, Romney has said he supports “full rights” for gay people, although he opposes same-sex marriage. The former Massachusetts governor has said he’d leave open service for gays in the military as it is.

But both Santorum and Romney have signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage committing themselves to back a Federal Marriage Amendment, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a presidential commission on “religious liberty.”

LGBT groups on the right and left had mixed reactions to evangelical leaders’ decision to endorse Santorum.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he doesn’t think the endorsement will translate into much success for Santorum over the long term.

“For some voters, an endorsement from the FRC will help Rick Santorum but it will not translate into a long-term gain with the general electorate,” Cooper said. “If anything, the FRC endorsement will further isolate Rick Santorum from the general electorate.”

Log Cabin has been emphasizing that social issues won’t play out well for Republican presidential candidates in their campaigns and economic issues will help them win the White House.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said the endorsement reflects discontent with Romney, saying “the theocratic wing of the Republican Party has been driving the not-Romney bus since the beginning.”

Davis added Santorum “is the perfect candidate for notorious hate groups” because of what he described as the candidate’s extreme positions.

“He wants to ban contraceptives, forcibly divorce tens of thousands of legally married couples and believes every undocumented immigrant is a criminal,” Davis said. “I’m only surprised it took this long for them to decide.”

Despite the endorsement from evangelical leaders, Romney continues to enjoy support from Republicans nationwide following his narrow win in Iowa and significant victory in New Hampshire. The daily updated Gallup poll on Sunday found Romney had a 23-point lead among other candidates.

Whether the endorsement will build Santorum’s strength in South Carolina — a conservative state holding its primary on Saturday — remains to be seen.

The support for Santorum is akin to the support he received from Iowa anti-gay leader Bob Vander Plaats prior to the Iowa caucuses, where Santorum took second place and lost by only eight votes.

Romney leads others in the Republican pack in South Carolina by single digits, but Santorum and Gingrich have double-digit strength in the polls.

Sean Theriault, a gay political scientist at the University of Texas, Austin, said the evangelical leaders’ support for Santorum may help the candidate, but the field of Romney alternatives remains too crowded for any one to surge ahead of the frontrunner.

“If this were a two-person race, Romney might be in trouble, but the longer it takes the social conservatives and tea partiers to decide on which Romney alternative they like the most, the better it is for Romney,” Theriault said. “If they don’t decide soon, it’ll be too late, and Romney will be the nominee.”

 

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

5 Comments
  • There are only two real issues. If we do not bring the troops home and end the Fed we will continue to lose the Global War on Terror, the economy will collapse, and we will have no rights whatsoever.

  • I f you are a true “Christian”, why do you promote hate?

  • Dr. Norman C. Murphy

    These Evangelical leaders do not represent Christian values. They are Satan’s band of ignorance and intolerance. They are a sad, pathetic, and hate-filled group of pseudo-heterosexuals who have to cover their own homosexuality.

  • Christian values (catholic) included the demonizing of Jews for “Deicide and the blool lible busines.

    that paved the way for a catholic who hated jews and gays etc, to take over Germany in 1933. the rest is history.

    the Gernan pope recently UNexcommunicated bishop Williamson, a holocaust denier

    He also said that gay marriage would destroy humanity. Knowing that many of his flock would hear it as “gays will destroy humanity”

    You should look at his institution during the late 1930s etc. [URL removed]

  • Oh yes – why do some of the muslims hate us. A hatred handed down from father to son over the dinner plate

    Societies have long memories. Remember the stories of the christian (catholic) crusades that killed tens of millions?

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