August 29, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
RNC 2012: Santorum calls for end to ‘assault on marriage’

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at the Republican National Convention (Blade photo by Michael Key)

TAMPA, Fla. — Speakers at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday hammered President Obama for what they said were failed economic policies while largely staying away from social or LGBT issues — although marriage was a cornerstone in the high-profile speech by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

The former Republican presidential candidate talked about running for the White House and shaking hands with people from many walks of life as he criticized Obama — even misrepresenting the president by saying he was “waiving the work requirement for welfare.”

Santorum devoted a significant portion of his speech to what he said was the decline of the institution of marriage.

“The fact is that marriage is disappearing in places where government dependency is highest,” Santorum said. “Most single mothers do heroic work and an amazing job raising their children, but if America is going to succeed, we must stop the assault on marriage and the family.”

Santorum never explicitly mentioned same-sex marriage during his speech, although the Republican has a history of vocal opposition to LGBT rights. Still, the former senator said President Obama, who in May endorsed marriage equality, has enacted policies that “undermine the traditional family.”

Additionally, Santorum criticized the Obama administration for immigration policy, saying “with his refusal to enforce our immigration laws, President Obama rules like he is above the law.” The criticism could be a reference to many actions the administration has taken — including providing certain young, undocumented immigrants with deferred action on deportation — but also could be a reference to the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to consider undocumented immigrants a low priority for removal if they’re in a same-sex marriage.

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said Santorum’s remarks on marriage shouldn’t be a surprise given that delegates at the convention earlier in the day approved a party platform including anti-gay language.

“Earlier today, delegates at the Republican convention enthusiastically voted in favor of the most anti-LGBT platform ever adopted by a political party,” Davis said. “It was a low point for the party and our country. It came as no surprise, then, to hear Rick Santorum lecturing delegates and the American people on ‘traditional families’ during the primetime speeches tonight.”

No other speakers at the convention on Tuesday made marriage or social issues as great a part of their speeches as Santorum, but others did touch on marriage.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who chaired the Republican Party platform committee, touted the marriage language in the manifesto — which endorses a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country — in addition to backing to other conservative policies like making abortion illegal.

“This platform affirms the traditional meaning of marriage and the sanctity of human life, defends religious freedom and Second Amendment rights and calls for a balanced budget amendment,” McDonnell said.

Speeches took place throughout the day at the convention as delegates took care of procedures needed for the Republican Party position itself for the 2012 presidential election.

Delegates at the convention officially threw their support behind Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, making him officially the party’s nominee in the race for the White House, in addition to giving final approval to the 2012 Republican Party platform. During the roll call of the states and jurisdictions who sent delegates to the convention, Romney received the backing of the 2,061 delegates, well over the 1,144-delegate threshold needed for him to claim the nomination.

But Romney was unable to secure all the delegates at the convention. More than 100 delegates pledged to libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) wouldn’t give up backing of their candidate. A handful of delegates also went to Santorum, who gave Romney the greatest challenge for the Republican nomination during the presidential primary.

The woman reading the delegate contributions from the states would only say the number allocated to Romney without recognizing other candidates, much to the consternation of Paul supporters, who heckled her for not recognizing him. According to media reports, Paul was present on the floor when the roll call was being recorded as supporters shouted “Let him speak!”

A number of other high-profile speeches took place on Tuesday, including remarks from Republican governors as well as U.S. Senate and congressional candidates.

The most well-received speech likely came from Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, who delivered personal remarks about starting a family together with the Republican presidential nominee at an early age and his experience starting Bain Capital, running the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and serving as governor of Massachusetts.

“But because this is America, that small company which grew has helped so many others lead better lives,” Ann Romney said. “The jobs that grew from the risks they took have become college educations, first homes. That success has helped fund scholarships, pensions and retirement funds. This is the genius of America: dreams fulfilled help others launch new dreams.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave the keynote address at the Republican National Convention (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Delivering the keynote address for the Republican National Convention was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was widely considered a possibility as Romney’s running mate before the selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Christie vetoed same-sex marriage legislation earlier this year.

In his speech, Christie talked about enacting fiscally conservative policies in a “blue” state that he said will result in New Jersey saving $132 billion in taxpayer dollars over the next 30 years — a bipartisan effort that the governor said could be duplicated in the White House and Congress.

“The disciples of yesterday’s politics underestimated the will of the people,” Christie said. “They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself. Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice.”

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

1 Comment
  • “I don’t believe in marriage but I do believe in divorce.” I feel if you want to get married you should have the right to do so no matter who you are and what you believe. I have not seen the convention because I’m usually tired once I get home from working at Dish, but decided to record it on my Hopper. Recording it doesn’t take up space on my hard drive, and with the Auto hop feature I can skip the commercials. I understand that the RNC is mainly about Romney/Ryan, but respect should be given to those like Ron Paul who worked hard and should be recognized for his efforts.

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