The National Organization for Marriage on Wednesday officially threw its support behind Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he has been called upon to renounce the anti-gay group’s support.
Brian Brown, NOM’s president, endorsed the candidate in a statement, saying the time has come for social conservatives need to rally around a nominee to defeat President Obama in November.
“We are proud to endorse Mitt Romney for president,” Brown said. “Gov. Romney was an early signer of NOM’s presidential pledge which represents his commitment to the nation to take specific actions as president to preserve and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
In August, Romney was among the candidates who signed a pledge from NOM committing himself to back a Federal Marriage Amendment, defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court and establish a commission on “religious liberty” to investigate the alleged harassment of same-sex marriage supporters.
“Now is the time for all people who recognize the importance of marriage to come together to support a true champion, Mitt Romney, against an incumbent who has done virtually everything in his power to undermine the institution of marriage,” Brown continued.
The endorsement comes the day after Romney’s main challenger in the race, Rick Santorum, announced he was suspending his campaign for the presidency, leaving Romney the only candidate with virtually any chance with obtaining the Republican nomination. Like Romney, Santorum was a signer of NOM’s pledge but was known for having even stronger anti-gay views than the former Massachusetts governor.
Brown also took a dig at Obama in the announcement. Among other things, Obama criticized the president for coming out against anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives and appointing individuals who support same-sex marriage as national campaign co-chairs. Obama said he could “evolve” to support marriage equality, but hasn’t yet endorsed marriage rights for gay couples.
“Incredibly, Obama still apparently claims to personally support traditional marriage,” Brown said. “With friends like President Obama, the institution of marriage doesn’t need enemies.”
Clo Ewing, an Obama campaign spokesperson, highlighted the contrast between Obama and Romney in response to NOM’s endorsement of the Republican candidate.
“President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same legal protections as straight couples,” Ewing said. “That’s why he has called for repeal of the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ and has taken steps to weaken this discriminatory law until the time it can be repealed legislatively. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who promised to be to the left of Senator Kennedy on gay rights is now being endorsed by the National Organization for Marriage, an organization committed to limiting the legal protections of the LGBT community.”
Late last month, the Huffington Post reported on secret tax documents from NOM revealing Romney’s Free & Strong America political action committee donated $10,000 to the organization as it sought passage of California’s Proposition 8.
Additionally, the endorsement comes on the heels of the publication of internal documents from NOM revealing the organization sought to employ racially divisive strategies and “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” to build opposition to same-sex marriage.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called on Romney to repudiate the endorsement in the wake of these developments.
“If Romney does not reject NOM’s endorsement, his silence – coupled with his 2008 donation – is tantamount to his approval of NOM’s ruthless, racially divisive strategy,” Solmonese said. “The fact that one of the most hate-filled groups in American politics is endorsing Romney today is something the governor should run from, not embrace. We’ll see what he chooses to do.”
On the same day as the endorsement, NOM’s social media accounts have reportedly been hacked. Among the tweets were an endorsement of marriage equality and a apology for its racially divisive strategy. The Romney endorsement appears to have originated from NOM officials.