Connect with us

National

Will Log Cabin endorse Romney?

Likely GOP nominee hires gay adviser but can’t outrun hostile primary rhetoric

Published

on

Mitt Romney speaking before attendees at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Mitt Romney swept a series of GOP presidential primaries this week as news surfaced that Newt Gingrich will suspend his campaign on Tuesday.

With Romney poised to wrap up the Republican nomination — and ready to pivot to the general election contest — his campaign announced the appointment of a gay man, Richard Grenell, to serve as national security and foreign policy spokesman.

The developments this week raise questions about whether the Log Cabin Republicans will endorse Romney for president, despite his promise to pursue a federal amendment banning same-sex marriage, among other anti-gay positions he’s articulated during the primary season.

The debate over whether to endorse Romney could prove thorny for Log Cabin. On one hand, the organization is likely to feel pressure from its Republican base to throw its support behind the party’s standard-bearer in the general election. On the other, Romney has backed anti-gay positions during the primary season, including support for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country and a pledge to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

Christian Berle, Log Cabin’s deputy executive director, said the board will make the endorsement decision in advance of the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Fla., this August.

“The endorsement of any candidate is something Log Cabin Republicans takes very seriously, particularly when it comes to a presidential nominee,” Berle said. “Staff and the board of directors will take the next several months to review Gov. Romney’s record and his vision for leading the country. Log Cabin Republicans will maintain its battle focus on building a stronger, more inclusive GOP.”

If history is any guide, then Log Cabin may withhold support for Romney because of his support for the federal amendment. Log Cabin endorsed George W. Bush in 2000. But in 2004, the group created a national stir when it withheld its endorsement of Bush’s re-election due to the president’s support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In a 22-2 vote, the Log Cabin board decided to withhold the endorsement.

Log Cabin’s then-president Patrick Guerriero explained the decision not to endorse Bush in an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times.

“This year, despite our loyalty to the party of Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln, we have decided, after significant discussion, to withhold our endorsement of President Bush,” Guerriero wrote. “It was a difficult choice, but our integrity requires it, and the Republican Party’s future will be stronger because of it.”

Although other concerns were cited, the primary reason for withholding support for Bush was his call for Congress to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment to send to the states for ratification.

“The constitutional amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships,” Guerriero said. “The president’s support of an unnecessary and discriminatory constitutional amendment ignores the party’s belief in state autonomy and disregards the nation’s reliance on federalism. Using the Constitution as a campaign tool weakens our nation’s founding document and erodes our party’s proud tradition of equality and liberty.”

In many ways, Romney’s views mirror those of Bush in 2004. Romney signed a pledge from the National Organization for Marriage 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 opponents. NOM has endorsed Romney, whose Free & Strong America political action committee donated $10,000 to the organization as it sought passage of California’s Proposition 8.

Log Cabin has an awkward history with Romney. In 2007, Log Cabin ran an ad against Romney in Iowa attacking him for not being conservative enough. It included footage of Romney running for U.S. Senate and expressing pro-choice views and distancing himself from former Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. A message at the end of the ad says it came from Log Cabin, but the Blade reported in 2008 that it was financed by Gill Action Fund.

“For years, he’s fought conservatives and religious extremists,” a female voice in the ad states. “Mitt Romney opposed the gun lobby, even Ronald Reagan. … A record fighting the religious right, a pro-choice record, Massachusetts values: Mitt Romney.”

But despite his support for a federal amendment, Romney’s anti-gay positions aren’t as extreme as other GOP candidates who competed against him for the Republican nomination. In a December interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Romney said he’s “not planning” on working to reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” unlike the other candidates such as former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Additionally, Romney said that although he backs a Federal Marriage Amendment, he doubts the political wherewithal exists to pass it.

Meanwhile, Romney’s decision to hire Grenell, who’s gay and a former Bush administration official, as his national security and foreign policy spokesman, was viewed as a pivot to the political center now that the primary season is ending. Grenell has come under fire for speaking out on Twitter against women, Democratic officials and the Gingriches. Around 800 tweets were reportedly deleted from his account.

Log Cabin threw its support behind Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008. In a 2008 Q&A with the Washington Blade, McCain said he’d establish a national AIDS strategy and would welcome a review of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — although the lawmaker was the primary opponent of repeal during the 2010 legislative effort. As a U.S. senator, McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment and didn’t run for president supporting the measure.

Many gay Republicans and Log Cabin chapter leaders declined to comment when contacted by the Washington Blade about whether Log Cabin should endorse Romney. In a leaked email dated April 13 obtained by the Blade, Log Cabin’s national staff told its chapter leaders not to speak to the Blade about the endorsement.

“We have been informed that Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade is reaching out to our chapter leaders with questions regarding the potential for Log Cabin Republicans to endorse Mitt Romney,” the email reads. “Please redirect Mr. Johnson to the national staff on this issue. No endorsement decision has been made, and it is in the best interest of our organization to refrain from comment at this time.”

Still, a handful of gay Republicans voiced support for the idea of a Romney endorsement when contacted by the Blade.

Bob Kabel, who’s gay and chair of the D.C. Republican Party, responded favorably when asked if he believes the national gay organization should throw its support behind Romney.

“I do think Log Cabin should endorse Romney,” Kabel said. “Romney has a good track record as governor of Massachusetts on gay issues, including appointing a number of openly gay officials in important positions. Other than on marriage, which we have a strong disagreement about, he is actually quite good on gay issues and, in addition, I think Log Cabin would support him because of his background and proven ability to understand the economy and create jobs. That what’s important to so many people, including gay people.”

Although Kabel touts Romney’s work on gay issues in Massachusetts, many LGBT advocates have criticized him for working to block legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and resurrecting a 1913 law preventing non-residents from marrying in the Bay State. According to MassEquality, Romney abolished the Governor’s Commission on GLBT Youth and rescinded an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in the state workforce. Another Republican, former Gov. William Weld, had put those measures in place.

Jim Driscoll, a gay Nevada-based activist who served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Bush administration, also called on Log Cabin to endorse Romney. Driscoll is a Romney supporter who donated to his campaign — both in 2008 and 2012 — and supported him during the Nevada caucuses.

“I think they should endorse him,” Driscoll said. “It looks to me as if the only issue there is the marriage amendment. This isn’t something that I’ve followed closely, but it seems to me that there’s very little chance that that marriage amendment can pass. It’s kind of a dead issue. I don’t see that it has any momentum. And I suspect that while [Romney] formally favors it, he’s not going to lift his little finger to do anything to see that it passes.”

Outside groups on the right and left had their own views on whether Log Cabin should get behind Romney.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay conservative group GOProud, refrained from directly saying whether Log Cabin should endorse Romney.

“It’s not for me to opine on whether Log Cabin Republicans should or should not endorse Gov. Romney,” LaSalvia said. “It should be noted, however, that in 2004 they emphatically stated that they could not endorse a candidate who supported a Federal Marriage Amendment, and in 2008 they spent more than $100,000 to run television and radio ads attacking Mitt Romney.”

Jerame Davis, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, said “any credible organization” working for the LGBT community “cannot and should not endorse Mitt Romney,” but noted the question of an endorsement will likely be a difficult one for the organization.

“Log Cabin is in a very precarious situation when it comes to endorsing Mitt Romney,” Davis said. “On the one hand, if they do endorse Romney, they are sending a clear signal to the rest of the LGBT community that being partisan hacks is more important than standing up for LGBT equality. On the other hand, if they don’t endorse Romney they become largely irrelevant in the debate about who will be the next president. Not only would this give their rivals, GOProud, an opening to out flank them on the right, but it would also be problematic for their executive director, who happens to sit on the RNC finance committee.”

Former Log Cabin leaders were reluctant to weigh in on whether the organization should endorse Romney. Guerriero, who after leaving Log Cabin served as head of Gill Action Fund, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. He’s now a partner at Civitas Public Affairs Group.

Patrick Sammon, who headed Log Cabin during its decision to endorse McCain and is now a filmmaker, declined to comment.

But Rich Tafel, who founded the organization and led it from 1993 to 2003, said in an email to the Blade that the organization, “will probably endorse Mitt Romney.”

“Mitt is a moderate, which is [why] he’s had a tough time this primary,” Tafel said. “He has a history of supporting gays and appointing them, which makes him unique among the GOP candidates. He has a 45 percent chance of winning so LCR has a responsibility to ensure it has a role with him should he win. He’ll need to move back to the middle to win this.”

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

The White House

EXCLUSIVE: Jill Biden to host White House Pride celebration

Event to take place on June 26

Published

on

First lady Jill Biden (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

First lady Jill Biden will host the White House Pride Month celebration on June 26, according to a press release previewed by the Washington Blade.

The party on the South Lawn will also feature a performance by singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer Deborah Cox and musical selections by DJ Trifle.

This year’s event comes on Equality Day this year, which honors the anniversaries of three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions that expanded rights and protections for LGBTQ Americans: Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down sodomy laws, United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which made marriage equality the law of the land.

The White House highlighted some of the “historic action” taken by President Joe Biden to “advance LGBTQ+ equality for the community,” including:

  • Signing into law the landmark Respect for Marriage Act which protects the rights of same-sex and interracial couples;
  • Appointing a historic number of LGBTQI+ and transgender appointees, including the first transgender American to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
  • Directing all federal agencies to strengthen civil rights protections on the basis of gender identity, resulting in agencies working to strengthen protections in housing, health care, education, employment, the criminal justice system, nutrition programs, and more;
  • Reversing the ban on open service by transgender members of the military;
  • Signing an executive order focused on LGBTQI+ children and families that directs agencies to address the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy” and finalized rule-making that ends disparities that LGBTQI+ children and parents face in the child welfare and foster care system and protects against disparities in health care; and
  • President Biden continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to enshrine civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans in federal law.

Last year, the president and the first lady hosted the celebration, which was the largest Pride event ever held at the White House.

Continue Reading

National

65% of Black Americans support Black LGBTQ rights: survey

Results show 40% have LGBTQ family member

Published

on

(Logo courtesy of the NBJC)

The National Black Justice Coalition, a D.C.-based LGBTQ advocacy organization, announced on June 19 that it commissioned what it believes to be a first-of-its-kind national survey of Black people in the United States in which 65 percent said they consider themselves “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” with 57 percent of the supporters saying they were “churchgoers.”

In a press release describing the findings of the survey, NBJC said it commissioned the research firm HIT Strategies to conduct the survey with support from five other national LGBTQ organizations – the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality, and GLSEN.

“One of the first surveys of its kind, explicitly sampling Black people (1,300 participants) on Black LGBTQ+ people and issues – including an oversampling of Black LGBTQ+ participants to provide a more representative view of this subgroup – it investigates the sentiments, stories, perceptions, and priorities around Black values and progressive policies, to better understand how they impact Black views on Black LGBTQ+ people,” the press release says.

It says the survey found, among other things, that 73 percent of Gen Z respondents, who in 2024 are between the ages of 12 and 27, “agree that the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people.”

According to the press release, it also found that 40 percent of Black people in the survey reported having a family member who identifies as LGBTQ+ and 80 percent reported having “some proximity to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer people, but only 42 percent have some proximity to transgender or gender-expansive people.”

The survey includes these additional findings:

• 86% of Black people nationally report having a feeling of shared fate and connectivity with other Black people in the U.S., but this view doesn’t fully extend to the Black LGBTQ+ community. Around half — 51% — of Black people surveyed feel a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.

• 34% reported the belief that Black LGBTQ+ people “lead with their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Those participants were “significantly less likely to support the Black LGBTQ+ community and most likely to report not feeling a shared fate with Black LGBTQ+ people.”

• 92% of Black people in the survey reported “concern about youth suicide after being shown statistics about the heightened rate among Black LGBTQ+ youth.” Those expressing this concern included 83% of self-reported opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

• “Black people’s support for LGBTQ+ rights can be sorted into three major groups: 29% Active Accomplices, 25% Passive Allies (high potential to be moved), 35% Opponents. Among Opponents, ‘competing priorities’ and ‘religious beliefs’ are the two most significant barriers to supporting Black LGBTQ+ people and issues.”

• 10% of the survey participants identified as LGBTQ. Among those who identified as LGBTQ, 38% identified as bisexual, 33% identified as lesbian or gay, 28% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming, and 6% identified as transgender.

• Also, among those who identified as LGBTQ, 89% think the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people, 69% think Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedoms than other Black people, 35% think non-Black LGBTQ+ people have fewer rights and freedom than other Black people, 54% “feel their vote has a lot of power,” 51% live in urban areas, and 75% rarely or never attend church.

Additional information about the survey from NBJC can be accessed here.

Continue Reading

U.S. Federal Courts

Club Q shooter sentenced to life in prison for federal hate crimes

Five people killed in 2022 mass shooting in Colo.

Published

on

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. (Justice Department YouTube screenshot)

Anderson Lee Aldrich, 24, formerly of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced to 55 concurrent life sentences to run consecutive to 190 years in prison after pleading guilty to 74 hate crimes and firearms charges related to the Nov. 19, 2022, mass shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ establishment in Colorado Springs.  

According to the plea agreement, Aldrich admitted to murdering five people, injuring 19, and attempting to murder 26 more in a willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated attack at Club Q. According to the plea, Aldrich entered Club Q armed with a loaded, privately manufactured assault weapon, and began firing. Aldrich continued firing until subdued by patrons of the club. As part of the plea, Aldrich admitted that this attack was in part motivated because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of any person.

“Fueled by hate, the defendant targeted members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a place that represented belonging, safety, and acceptance — stealing five people from their loved ones, injuring 19 others, and striking fear across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Today’s sentencing makes clear that the Justice Department is committed to protecting the right of every person in this country to live free from the fear that they will be targeted by hate-fueled violence or discrimination based on who they are or who they love. I am grateful to every agent, prosecutor, and staff member across the Department — from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, to the Civil Rights Division, the ATF, and FBI — for their work on this case. The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the safety and civil rights of all people in our country.”

“The 2022 mass shooting at Club Q is one of the most violent crimes against the LGBTQIA+ community in history,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The FBI and our partners have worked tirelessly towards this sentencing, but the true heroes are the patrons of the club who selflessly acted to subdue the defendant. This Pride Month and every month, the FBI stands with the survivors, victims, and families of homophobic violence and hate.”

“ATF will not rest until perpetrators like this defendant are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Steven Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “I hope today’s life sentence brings at least some peace to the victims and survivors of this senseless, horrific tragedy. That this sentence should come during Pride month reinforces how far we have left to go before all communities, including all LGBTQIA+ communities, are safe here. It also shows how far ATF and all our partners will go to ensure hatred does not win.”

“The defendant’s mass shooting and heinous targeting of Club Q is one of the most devastating assaults on the LGBTQIA+ community in our nation’s history. This sentence cannot reclaim the lives lost or undo the harms inflicted. But we hope that it provides the survivors, the victims’ families, and their communities a small measure of justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our message today should be loud and clear. No one should have to fear for their life or their safety because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The Justice Department will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate hate-fueled, bias-driven attacks.”

“Hate has no place in our country and no place in Colorado” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch for the District of Colorado. “I hope that today’s sentence demonstrates to the victims and those connected to this horrific event that we do not tolerate these heinous acts of violence.”

The FBI Denver Field Office, Colorado Springs Police Department, and ATF investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison Connaughty and Bryan Fields for the District of Colorado and, Maura White of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

related
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular