May 10, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
Grenell questions timing of Obama’s marriage announcement

The gay Republican briefly affiliated with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign said President Obama’s support for marriage equality places him “on the right side of history,” but cautioned politicians against “playing politics” with civil rights.

Richard Grenell, who was Romney’s foreign policy spokesperson for a week before resigning, said Obama could have endorsed marriage equality while Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress or before the vote on the same-sex marriage ban in North Carolina in an email to the Washington Blade.

“President Obama’s decision to personally support gay marriage means he will be on the right side of history,” Grenell said. “He deserves credit for finally taking a stand in favor of equality. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep politicians from playing politics with a group’s civil rights. Democrats and Republicans continue to calculate the political implications of their positions, and the timing of the president’s announcement suggests his position is a political move too. While the president could have evolved when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate or even yesterday before the swing state of North Carolina voted on the issue, Republicans should also remember that young people and many Christians believe in civil equality.”

Grenell, who’s gay, became in April the first openly gay spokesperson for a Republican presidential candidate, leading some observers to speculate Romney had hired him to seem more moderate as the presidential campaign heads toward the general election. But he resigned a week later when anti-gay conservatives railed against the decision and liberals took him on for Twitter messages criticizing women and Democratic leaders.

Grenell has previously weighed in on Obama’s lack of support for marriage equality. In an op-ed to the Washington Blade published on April 20 titled, “Gay Dems excuse Obama’s failings for party invitations,” Grenell criticized Obama supporters for praising him and attending State Dinners while the president continues to “evolve” on same-sex marriage.

On the same day that Obama came out for same-sex marriage, Romney restated his own opposition to marriage equality. In an interview with a Fox News affiliate in Denver, Romney expressed opposition to both same-sex marriage and civil unions, saying “I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name.”

Grenell’s remarks echo those made by Log Cabin Republicans following Obama’s announcement. R.Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, said the president’s decision to come out for marriage equality after North Carolina voted on the issue is “offensive and callous.”

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” Cooper said. “Log Cabin Republicans appreciate that President Obama has finally come in line with leaders like Vice President Dick Cheney on this issue, but LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch. This administration has manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week he does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.”

The criticism from gay Republicans invoked the ire of Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, who maintained the president’s announcement was significant.

“These groups are truly shameless in their desperate attempt to provide cover for the atrociously regressive positions held by the GOP and Mitt Romney,” Davis said. “Just today, Mitt Romney came out singing the party line expressing his complete opposition to marriage equality and civil unions.”

Davis took particular offense to Republicans invoking Cheney as a leader in LGBT rights — even though he has endorsed marriage equality and called for reconsideration of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before it was repealed.

“Cheney was, by most accounts, the most powerful vice president in history,” Davis said. “He had the power to order torture, wire-tapping, and got us into two wars – yet he did absolutely nothing to advance LGBT equality with that power in the entire eight years he was in office. When George Bush and Ken Mehlman — himself a closeted gay man at the time — concocted their scheme to advance a federal marriage amendment for political gain, Cheney sat idly by and did nothing to stop it.”

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

6 Comments
  • I'm Just Sayin'

    The position espoused by LCR on a day that Gay Americans have been waiting for since Stonewall (and are right to take comfort in) calls into question whether Cooper has a shred of strategic sense or cultural savvy. LCR clearly missed the historical significance. Or maybe they didn’t and that makes what LCR published about Obama and their overtures to Romney even sadder. Desperation is never pretty.

    Perhaps LCR should have paid more attention to the example set by a man who they deemed a conservative hero, Ted Olsen. He was gracious, uplifting and inclusive in his comments when he tweeted: “Today is a proud day for all Americans….Obama’s words remind us that marriage and equality are universal values.”

    For LCR to dismiss Romney’s opposition to marriage equality as “unfortunate” is mind boggling. “Unfortunate” is when hair gel won’t do it’s job. Romney’s views on gay marriage and civil unions are patently offensive to any gay person who has a modicum of self-esteem and measures the quality of their citizenship by more than the size of their wallet.

    Plus, for LCR to also suggest that the solution for republicans is to keep their anti-gay views hidden, demonstrates that they are ignoring the realities of what a Romney presidency means for equality. Espousing that Republican leaders and candidates keep their bigoted views “in the closet” is not a viable strategy for a gay advocacy organization that aspires to be relevant.

    LCR demonstrated two things yesterday, a lack of class, and another in what has become a long line of failed attempts at defending the indefensible. The goodwill they earned from the DADT victory is being consumed at monumental speed. Another callous episode of this nature will deplete it for sure.

  • “‘That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,’ Cooper said.”

    Uhhhhhhhhhhh….

    So that would mean that remaining un-evolved would have been, uhhhhh…., fine and dandy?

    So, Coop, are you also pissed off that Obama didn’t wait until after the 2012 elections to take out Bin Laden?

  • It seems to me that gay republicans have too much to criticize for being on the wrong team. After all they live and breathe with the enemy. They support the enemy financially, socially, politically and morally. So they need to be sure of how and what they say before they say it.

  • Fausto Fernandez

    It seems to me that gay Republicans are heavily into S&M. Well, into M really: masochism

  • I’m Just Sayin’
    The position espoused by LCR on a day that Gay Americans have been waiting for since Stonewall (and are right to take comfort in) calls into question whether Cooper has a shred of strategic sense or cultural savvy. LCR clearly missed the historical significance. Or maybe they didn’t and that makes what LCR published about Obama and their overtures to Romney even sadder. Desperation is never pretty.
    Perhaps LCR should have paid more attention to the example set by a man who they deemed a conservative hero, Ted Olsen. He was gracious, uplifting and inclusive in his comments when he tweeted: “Today is a proud day for all Americans….Obama’s words remind us that marriage and equality are universal values.”
    For LCR to dismiss Romney’s opposition to marriage equality as “unfortunate” is mind boggling. “Unfortunate” is when hair gel won’t do it’s job. Romney’s views on gay marriage and civil unions are patently offensive to any gay person who has a modicum of self-esteem and measures the quality of their citizenship by more than the size of their wallet.
    Plus, for LCR to also suggest that the solution for republicans is to keep their anti-gay views hidden, demonstrates that they are ignoring the realities of what a Romney presidency means for equality. Espousing that Republican leaders and candidates keep their bigoted views “in the closet” is not a viable strategy for a gay advocacy organization that aspires to be relevant.
    LCR demonstrated two things yesterday, a lack of class, and another in what has become a long line of failed attempts at defending the indefensible. The goodwill they earned from the DADT victory is being consumed at monumental speed. Another callous episode of this nature will deplete it for sure.

    [Translate]

    I truly think he is evolving as a person and President. I would rather have someone in office who would speak out on the issue eventually, than never! This article has the most useless meaning. ANYONE, in politics uses calculated moves (who the hell don’t know that?). I personally believe that after a devastating blow like NC’s vote against gays, that his timing couldn’t have been better. Everyone who receives bad news likes to also receive good news, and I am sure that was his angle (worked for me). My wish is that you would stop twisting his positives into negatives and to stop siding with the un-sideable (Romney). He doesn’t even believe that you have the right to love your partner in the same sense of which he loves his wife. He is an elitist, who thinks the worse of our kind, looks down on our thoughts and views. Thank you Mr. President for standing on my side of the fence the view is so much better from here!

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