Log Cabin Republicans' endorsement of Romney hurts cause for equality

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In 2004, uncertain of how strongly President Bush would oppose LGBT issues - ranging from workplace protections to hate crimes to open military service - was rightly not enough to merit Log Cabin’s endorsement. But in 2012, Log Cabin has now endorsed a Republican candidate who has taken a position on most of these issues, and for the most part, we know that a Mitt Romney administration would be unambiguously harmful to LGBT Americans.
 
Perhaps most harmful of all, Governor Romney has come out as a supporter of a federal amendment to the US constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Opposing marriage equality and civil unions is apparently not enough for Governor Romney. (Even President Bush supports civil unions.) Apparently, the governor feels it is necessary to write discrimination into the US constitution to ensure same-sex couples are forever denied the rights and responsibilities of marriage.
 
Why Governor Romney supports this amendment now in 2012 is unclear. Fewer than half of Americans supported a federal marriage amendment in 2004. And today, poll after poll consistently find that a clear majority of Americans are in favor of marriage equality. This is compared to only 42 percent of Americans who supported the freedom to marry in 2004.
 
Governor Romney’s support for a federal marriage amendment is a “back to the future” moment, revealing once again that he is an out-of-touch candidate supporting an out-of-date policy that was barely considered popular eight years ago.
 
As Political Director of the Human Rights Campaign in 2004, I worked with allies and colleagues – including Guerriero – to build a coalition of conservative Republicans who stood firm in their opposition to a federal marriage amendment. While most of these conservative Republicans did not support marriage equality, they remained united in their opposition to a constitutional amendment that would write discrimination into the US Constitution. As Senator John McCain stated in 2004, a federal marriage amendment is simply “un-Republican.”
 
Governor Romney’s stance on LGBT issues distinguishes him as radical who is out of touch with public opinion.  But what’s even more unclear is why Log Cabin would endorse Governor Romney when his support of a federal marriage amendment runs anathema to states’ rights – a core Republican Party value and principle.
 
Practically speaking, a federal marriage amendment would represent an unnecessary intrusion of the federal government that would prevent states from exercising their own will on the matter. This year, four states will vote on marriage equality, three of which may affirmatively pass marriage for same-sex couples at the ballot box for the first time in our nation’s history. However, if Governor Romney had his way, the federal government would not only strip these states of their right to define marriage, but reverse the decision of the six states (and Washington, DC) that have already extended marriage to same-sex couples.
 
In 2004, Log Cabin chose not to endorse President Bush largely due to his support for the very same amendment Governor Romney now supports on the campaign trail. Notably, they did so two months ahead of the election, taking a transparent and principled stand against their party in defense of equality. In 2012, however, Log Cabin has chosen to endorse a candidate who supports a federal marriage amendment, opposes marriage equality, opposes federal nondiscrimination protections for gay workers, has a history of halting anti-gay bullying initiatives as governor, and originally opposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. And they made this endorsement less than 2 weeks before Election Day.
 
This eleventh hour endorsement certainly does not help Log Cabin fulfill its mission of building “a stronger and more inclusive Republican party.” Ironically, the only thing this endorsement does is call attention to Governor Romney’s anti-LGBT equality positions. Rather than expand the GOP “big tent,” this endorsement alienates equality minded Republicans, and ultimately does nothing to advance the fight for full LGBT equality.

Stachelberg, executive vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.