October 24, 2012 at 11:27 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
ENDA was focus of Log Cabin meeting with Romney
R. Clarke Cooper, Mitt Romney, Jim Kolbe, Republican Party, Election 2012, Log Cabin Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney (center) with Log Cabin’s R. Clarke Cooper (left) and former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (photo courtesy Log Cabin)

A meeting that took place at a Virginia farmhouse between officials from Log Cabin Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney included a discussion about workplace non-discrimination, but attendees who spoke to the Washington Blade wouldn’t enumerate any commitments made by Romney.

R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin’s executive director, said workplace non-discrimination protections were the focus of the meeting, which took place Oct. 17 at Greenwood Farm in Leesburg, Va., which was a precursor the organization’s endorsement of the candidate announced on Tuesday.

The Log Cabin chief was non-commital when asked if he gathered from the meeting that Romney would sign a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it reached his desk.

“I can say with confidence that the Romney administration would work on desirable outcomes for workplace non-discrimination,” Cooper said. “I’m going to leave it broad like that because I think there’s room for administrative action as well as legislative. I also think it’s probably fair to say that legislation in a form of an ENDA or an ENDA-like legislation is certainly realistic.”

The Nation’s Ben Adler reported that Romney secretly promised Log Cabin he would sign ENDA, but doesn’t want to make that position public for fear of upsetting the religious right. Nowhere in the current version of The Nation’s piece does Cooper say he received a commitment on ENDA. In conversations with the Blade, Cooper insisted Romney never committed to signing any legislation.

Previously, the Washington Blade reported Log Cabin was seeking clarity on ENDA before making its endorsement decision. Romney supported the legislation as a U.S. Senate candidate in 1994, but in later years backed away from that support. The GOP nominee hasn’t addressed the legislation over the course of the 2012 presidential campaign.

During the meeting, Cooper said Romney was “very interested” in talking about different state laws on workplace discrimination for LGBT people. A total of 21 states have laws barring job discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people; 16 states and D.C. protect all LGBT people from job bias.

“He is aware that there is a kind of patchwork or quilt of states that don’t, and that inequity was something of discussion,” Cooper said. “Some states have it, and some states don’t and this is where it gets confusing and problematic from an administrative standpoint as well.”

Cooper said he impressed upon Romney that ENDA would be consistent with his goals for economic stimulus and job growth because many major businesses have non-discrimination policies in place and discrimination may be preventing LGBT Americans from entering the workforce.

Asked if there was any portion of the current version of the legislation to which Romney objected, Cooper said Romney didn’t express concern about any particular language and did not object to protecting people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

According to Cooper, the Romney campaign took the lead in initiating the meeting — not Log Cabin — after a series of discussions between the group and the campaign. Those in attendance at the meeting, which lasted about 15 minutes, were Romney, gay former U.S. House Rep. Jim Kolbe and Log Cabin staffer Casey Pick and a Romney staffer. Neither Cooper nor Kolbe would identify the campaign staffer who accompanied Romney.

Kolbe, a Log Cabin member who’s also a trustee of the organization, stopped short of saying Romney offered any firm commitments on federal workplace non-discrimination protections, but said they were discussed during the meeting.

“He gave us a firm personal view of opposing workplace discrimination without endorsing ENDA specifically,” Kolbe said. “I think that it’s an area of opportunity where we have an opportunity to make a lot of headway with him.”

Kolbe said he also brought up immigration issues affecting same-sex couples — such as the inability of gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency. Kolbe faces that problem with his own partner, Hector Alfonso. Kolbe said Romney acknowledged him by nodding, but offered no further response.

According to Cooper, the meeting was a culmination of discussions that took place between between Log Cabin and the Romney campaign on issues of concern to the organization — including LGBT issues — over the course of the year.

Cooper said he’s previously spoken to Romney — notably during an exchange following the candidate’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee where the Log Cabin chief said he disagreed with him on the Defense of Marriage Act — but the exchange at the farmhouse was their most extensive meeting.

“That was the most substantive meeting that we had with them,” Cooper said. “That was the culmination from dialogue meetings and information exchanges with various personnel on the campaign.”

One option that the White House has said President Obama would not take at this time is an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Both Cooper and Kolbe said that directive wasn’t discussed at the meeting, but Log Cabin has engaged with the Romney campaign previously on the issue.

Asked if the Romney campaign has offered any commitment on the executive order, Cooper replied that it would be in line with the candidate’s position that he opposes discrimination.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the governor on this, but I can tell you that was something on the table,” Cooper said.

While shying away from making any firm commitments on workplace protections, Cooper said Romney was firm deciding not to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal or hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, which the Obama administration already mandated for hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Both positions were articulated by Romney before, but Romney’s commitment to the latter came into question over the weekend when Romney adviser Bay Buchanan told Buzzfeed on Saturday Romney still supports a Federal Marriage Amendment, but believes hospital visitation should be determined by the states under the Tenth Amendment.

“There’s not going to be a retreat by President Romney on repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Cooper said. “There’s not going to be a retreat on hospital visitation.”

Cooper said he didn’t get a sense from Romney on how high a priority passing a Federal Marriage Amendment would be for the candidate, but said he impressed upon Romney the organization’s desire to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

“We were very, very clear not only to Gov. Romney, but to the campaign staff that were working to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act,” Cooper said. “That was part of our legislative portfolio. They clearly understood that.”

The Romney campaign didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on the meeting.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • So basically nothing substantial came out of that meeting except that he would keep President Obama's historic LGBT protections, already enacted, in place. Spare me.

  • ahh the Jews for Hitler begging for crumbs.

  • The problem with the Soggy Noggin Rethugliturds' endorsement of Shitt Wrongmoney is that it gives Shitt Wrongmoney a false cover to claim that a gay-rights-interest group endorsed him. There is nothing about the Soggy Noggins' endorsement that speaks to any identifiable and testable claim that Shitt Wrongmoney would advance LGBTers' rights. That is to say, nothing about their endorsement has the least thing to do with advancing gay rights. The endorsement is not at all based on gay rights. The Soggy Noggin Rethugliturds have no claim to making this endorsement on any gay-rights-related basis. They are as phony as Shitt Wrongmoney himself.


    I can understand someone wanting to be a member of the Republican Party for economic reasons, because they are a Pro-Life individual, or because they are conservative in some of their values. However, for the life of me, I cannot comprehend how any self-respecting Gay person would want to be a member of a political party that vehemently refuses to allow you equal rights, especially when it comes to marriage. I feel that these Gay men and women have serious self-esteem issues.

    “Coming Out” of the closet can be difficult. We are surrounded with straight stereotypes in the media, at home with family, at school, and especially in our religious institutions. We are taught that straight is “normal”, and our orientation is “sinful”, “a choice”, and if we don’t change we are “going to hell”. One must come to a sense of loving self-acceptance to combat the negativity we have to deal with. I believe that Log Cabin Republicans have missed the loving self-acceptance step.

    The 2012 Republican Party platform infers that they will establish a Constitutional Amendment banning Gay Marriage. Furthermore, they want the Amendment to state that the institution of Marriage is only between a man and a woman. When people hate the essence of who you are, how can you possible support and participate with that group? It would be like an African-American wanting to join the Ku Klux Klan because they like the barbecues the KKK have. Are you serious Log Cabin Republicans? Wake up and smell the hatred!

    Please don’t tell me that being Gay is only part of who you are. It is not “part” of who you are… it IS who you are! This is the way you were born. This is what God has made you, and wants you to be. Realize that when someone or some organization will not completely accept you for whom you are… if they will not allow you, and fight for you to have equal rights, and equal protection under the law… if they infer that you are “less than” they are… then you must, in no uncertain terms say, “F**K YOU” and walk away!

    I don’t care how much you like their economic views. I don’t care how much you like their position against abortion. I don’t care conservative you are. They essentially despise who you are! Do you realize that? This issue, as you can tell, makes me very, very angry. Here I am fighting for equal rights for my Gay brothers and sisters, and here you are voting for, and supporting a party that would rather just not have to deal with you at all.

    When you hear your candidate stating that he feels Marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman… hide your head in shame, because you will be voting for him… and YOU are allowing the bigotry to continue!

    I’m Michael LaRocca, and I approve this message.

    • maybe because being against gay marriage isn't what defines the republican party just as being gay doesn't is only one aspect of who these people are. They can see there is bigger and more important things going on in this country unrelated to who you sleep with or where you stick your dick.

    • Steven Bruce Being gay is not just who you sleep with or where you stick your dick.Being gay is who God made us to be. We cannot change that. I can appreciate there being more to a voters decision, but not when people deny you civil rights. That to me is the bigger issue.

    • I've got a better solution for gay marriage. Get government out of marriage entirely. Why is marriage a license? Licenses can be revoked or denied. The entire reason government got into the business of marriage was to be able to deny or revoke BASED ON RACE. It's time to put marriage back where it belongs; in the churches of it's respective cults. Straights are fleeing from marriage already. It's a terrible deal in this modern age and you don't need to tell someone that you love them in front of friends and family.

  • THIS IS SUCH A JOKE! They're [Log Cabin Repubs] calling 15 MINUTES a "substantive meeting"? How in HELL can ANY comprehensive strategies around LBGT issues be decided in that length of time, let alone trusting a man who feels the meeting has to be "in secret"? If he'll change positions quite publicly that he has taken publicly, what makes these fools think he will "honor" any position he's 'nodded to' in secret? LMAO @ this Log Cabin foolishness to justify supporting this man & party that would not even allow them to join in at their CPAC meeting this year…SMDH. The Log Cabin Republicans are some of the most delusional folks I can imagine…and should the worst happen (if Romney/Ryan make it to the White House), they'll stand with egg on their face as Rethuglifools re-instate DADT and pass the Federal Marriage Amendment…looks like us Dems will have to stop this from happening and save them from themselves and the party they insist on supporting.

  • “Kolbe said he also brought up immigration issues affecting same-sex couples — such as the inability of gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency. Kolbe faces that problem with his own partner, Hector Alfonso. Kolbe said Romney acknowledged him by nodding, but offered no further response.” ———- That alone should tell you what kind of guy this is. He NODDED? He met with them for FIFTEEN minutes, and they’re as giddy as schoolgirls? OMG! LMAO!

  • ohh golly gee willickers….they LCR's bow and kiss the ass of the GOP for possibly "allowing " them hospital visits…well gosh, thank u sooo much (sarcasm) FU LCR.

  • Isn't it just unbelievably sad that with the economy being what it is, with what the polls that have told us what LGBT Americans are voting on during this election, the only people in this election who are talking about ENDA and anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace are Republicans? Obama and the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for not even bothering to so much as publicly offer themselves as a better alternative on this issue.

    And then they wonder why they're not seeing the kind of enthusiasm for Obama from LGBT voters which we saw in 2008. Right here, in a nutshell, is exactly why that's the case: They're not speaking to the issue which is most relevant to the lives of the LGBT working class.

    • Please I have plenty of friends from all walks of life that advocate for Obama and the work he has done. If you wish to be a cash cow for Republicans and still end up being disrespected go join the Log Cabin. Here are some of the things Obama has done for the LGBT community. If you find that Republicans have done better then be my guest and reply:

      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted a regulation ending the ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.
      President Obama issued Presidential Memorandum in April 2010 directing HHS to issue regulations requiring all hospitals receiving Medicaid and Medicare to prohibit discrimination in visitation against LGBT people. HHS issued a final regulation that went into effect in early 2011.
      HUD issued final regulations in January 2012 prohibiting discrimination in federal public housing programs and federally insured mortgage loans. HUD also requires its grantees to comply with LGBT-inclusive state and local housing discrimination protections.
      The Office of Personnel Management published final regulations in the Federal Register expanding the eligibility for long-term care coverage to same-sex partners and sick leave to care for a same-sex partner.
      The federal Prison Rape Elimination Commission proposed national standards to reduce sexual abuse in correctional facilities, including standards regarding LGBT and intersex inmates. They were later instituted as a rule finalized by the Justice Department last month.
      Sub-Regulatory Guidance/Policy Announcements
      These are policy advances instituted by — and subject to the will of — the administration.
      The Department of Health and Human Services revised its funding guidance around abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs, requiring that recipient programs are inclusive of and non-stigmatizing toward LGBT youth.
      HHS, in partnership with the Department of Education and Department of Justice, launchedstopbullyingnow.com.
      The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency recently released new 2011 Performance Based National Detention Standards. These new standards provide guidance that aims to improve treatment of LGBT and HIV-positive people in detention facilities.
      In summer 2011, ICE published a memo and clarifying guidance providing that an individual’s family relationships, including a same-sex relationship, would be considered as a factor in labeling certain deportations as low-priority deportations.
      The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced a proposed regulatory change expanding the meaning of “members of a family residing in one household” for the purposes of the customs declaration form, which must be completed prior to re-entry to the United States.
      The DOJ issued an opinion clarifying that the criminal provisions of the Violence Against Women Act related to stalking and abuse apply equally to same-sex partners.
      The State Department revised the standards for changing a gender marker on a passport, making the process less burdensome for transgender people.
      In September 2011, the Social Security Administration confirmed that it ended the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). This resulted in the immediate cessation of SSA sending notifications that alert employers when the gender marker on an employee’s W-2 does not match Social Security records.
      The State Department extended numerous benefits to the partners of Foreign Service officers, including diplomatic passports and access to emergency evacuation.
      The State Department reversed a Bush administration policy that refused to use a same-sex marriage license as evidence of a name change for passports.
      The Department of Education issued guidance clarifying when student bullying may violate federal law, distributed a memo outlining key components of strong state anti-bullying laws and policies and made clear to public schools that gay-straight alliances have a right to form and meet.
      The Department of Education published guidance and, in coordination with the Department of Justice, has pursued Title IX complaints filed by LGBT students experiencing harassment based on sex or sex stereotyping.
      OPM added gender identity to the equal employment opportunity policy governing all federal jobs.
      The Department of Labor issued guidance clarifying that an employee can take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a same-sex partner’s child.
      The IRS clarified that domestic partners (and their children) can be designated beneficiaries for VEBA funding/payment purposes.
      The Census Bureau overturned the Bush administration’s interpretation of the Defense of Marriage Act and agreed to release data on married same-sex couples along with other demographic information from the 2010 Census.

  • Best analogy I’ve seen yet: “It’s like voting for George Wallace during the civil rights movement and apologizing for his racism.” Pulitzer prize winning playwrite Doug Wright from a message now going viral on FaceBook.

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