Revelations this week that the Republican Party platform would include strong opposition to same-sex marriage and an endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment has renewed debate over whether Log Cabin Republicans should withhold its endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney because of the anti-gay language.
This week, the 112 members of the Republican Party platform committee approved language that affirms marriage as between one man, one woman; criticizes judges for “court-ordered redefinition of marriage”; attacks the Obama administration for no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act; and endorses a Federal Marriage Amendment. Buzzfeed revealed the draft language on marriage in a report on Monday and quoted Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, as taking credit for writing the marriage language.
“We reaffirm our support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman,” the draft language reportedly states. “We applaud the citizens of the majority of States which have enshrined in their constitutions the traditional concept of marriage, and we support the campaigns underway in several other states to do so.”
During deliberations over the platform, some members of the committee offered amendments to soften the language with respect to marriage — including delegate Barbara Ann Fenton of Rhode Island, who offered language saying the government should get out of marriage and endorse civil unions for gay and straight couples — but each of these measures was defeated by voice vote. Log Cabin Republicans had a four-member delegation credentialed to attend the proceedings.
Now that the platform language has been made public — and assailed by LGBT advocates across the board — calls are emerging for Log Cabin to decline to endorse Romney.
Log Cabin has precedent for declining to endorse presidential candidates in its own party. In 2004, the organization declined to endorse then-President George W. Bush in his bid for re-election largely over his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment. In an op-ed published Sept. 15, 2004, then-Log Cabin President Patrick Guerriero laid out the case for why his organization didn’t endorse its party’s presidential nominee — and referenced disappointment with the 2004 Republican Party platform.
“Even as we saw the GOP’s future highlighted with fair-minded prime-time convention speakers, we saw the passage of an extremist party platform that opposes any basic protections for gay and lesbian families,” Guerriero wrote at the time. “The incongruity between the party’s platform and its list of prime-time speakers symbolizes a wider battle for the GOP’s heart and soul.”
This year, the organization has yet to endorse the Republican presidential ticket, but is expected to announce its decision along with endorsements for congressional candidates prior to its national dinner, which will take place this year in D.C. at the Hyatt Regency on Sept. 20. Log Cabin didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether the platform will factor into the endorsement, but the organization has said before it would weigh many factors into the decision.
The co-founders of the “Mitt Gets Worse” LGBT campaign against Romney — Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, and David Brock, founder of American Bridge 21st Century — issued a joint statement on Wednesday decrying the platform language and calling on Log Cabin not to endorse the candidate.
“Surely, the Log Cabin Republicans, who exist to promote full equality in the Republican Party will now find it impossible to endorse Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, just as they had to pass on endorsing then-President Bush in 2004 when he and the Republican Party were then actively pushing an anti-marriage equality amendment to the Constitution while promoting anti-marriage equality state referenda,” Brock and Jacobs said. “The Republican Party and its nominees keep getting worse for LGBT Americans.”
The organization last week submitted a petition to Log Cabin — which is still available online — calling on the organization to decline to endorse Romney during the 2012 election based on the candidate’s anti-LGBT record. As of Wednesday, the petition had 35,000 signatures.
But the 2012 platform language is in line with Romney’s beliefs. He backs a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage throughout the country even as he said he doubts Congress would have the political wherewithal to pass it. He also pledged to resume defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is similarly on the record with beliefs that are in accordance with the platform. As a U.S. House member, Ryan voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006. More recently, he voted for amendments to separate bills reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act.
Gay Republicans had mixed views on whether the platform language should be a factor in the organization’s decision to endorse Romney.
Jim Driscoll, a a gay Nevada-based HIV/AIDS activist who’s backing Romney in the presidential election, has previously called on Log Cabin to endorse Romney and continued to say the organization should do so — with the caveat that the organization should express consternation over the party platform.
“They should endorse him despite the platform, but they should say it in spite of the platform and condemn those elements in the platform that are completely out of touch with the gay community and out of touch with America,” Driscoll said. “It should be an endorsement with that reservation — that they condemn that trend.”
Recalling Bush officially won Florida by a margin of 537 votes, Driscoll said gay Republicans were responsible for putting the candidate over the top. Driscoll said the Romney campaign should handle the issue of gay rights “more carefully, perceptively, sensitively, intelligently,” even though he acknowledged that the presidential campaign wasn’t responsible for writing the platform.
Log Cabin Republicans has responded to the platform. On Wednesday, Cooper issued a statement calling the inclusion of anti-gay language “a hollow and short-lived victory” for social conservatives who “know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality.” But the question of whether the organization will endorse Romney in spite of the language remains.
Robert Turner, president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, said the platform language shouldn’t play a role in whether Log Cabin endorses because the platform document is unrelated to the candidate seeking the White House.
“The party platform is a document of the Republican Party not of the candidate,” Turner said.
Turner declined to opine on whether the national organization should endorse Romney, saying the decision is up to the national board.