The rich white men (and allies) of The Log Cabin Republican Club For Assimilationist Souls, from time to time, have done great things for our community, like fighting to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But they also have a storied history of problematic political endorsements, and today’s was no exception: “the nation’s only organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans” have astoundingly (but alas, not surprisingly) announced their wholehearted endorsement of Mitt F*cking Romney.
If anyone doubted that the Log Cabin Republicans would eventually endorse Romney, it would have been because the Log Cabin Republicans invested heavily in defeating Romney (and supporting McCain) in the 2008 primaries, even inspiring Romney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden to declare, “Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment and so it makes sense that a national gay rights group would attack him.” Then, in August, the Log Cabin Republicans made a strong statement against the Republican platform and its anti-gay agenda.
But times have changed.
From today’s press release:
If LGBT issues are a voter’s highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter’s choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate’s history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans.
Firstly, drawing any conclusions from what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts is downright foolish — he’s made it abundantly clear that he’s ready and willing to flip-flop and flip again on just about everything he’s ever claimed to believe in, ever. Furthermore, as ThinkProgress points out, Romney’s allegedly not-negative attitude towards LGBT equality was hardly on blast during his term as governor:
Despite once pledging, as a candidate, to be “better than Ted” Kennedy on gay rights, Romney made his opposition to marriage equality one of the benchmarks of his one term as governor. He fired two state employees ostensibly for marrying their same-sex partners, dissolved the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, blocked an anti-bullying guide because it contained the words “bisexual” and “transgender,” and his testified against marriage equality to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional. A Boston Spirit article recently noted his stunning insensitivity to LGBT people, including reportedly telling a lesbian constituent, “I didn’t know you had families.”
Think Progress also notes that as a presidential candidate, Romney signed NOM’s pledge to support a federal marriage amendment and his website promises Romney’s intention to “appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act” and “champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.” Furthermore, the Log Cabin Republicans focus on economic prosperity over LGBT issues is a bit backwards when many of Romney’s discriminatory policies have direct impact on the economic well-being of LGBTs: Romney is against anti-discrimination employment protections for LGBT people and opposes same-sex marriage, which comes along with tax benefits for same-sex couples. Then there’s the whole “gay marriage is good for the economy in general” argument as well.
Within hours of the Log Cabin announcement, openly gay congressman Barney Frank made a video expressing his outrage, which includes the line “we have never in American history had a sharper distinction between a very supportive candidate/platform and one that’s very very opposed.” :
In the video, Frank also addresses Paul Ryan’s outrageously anti-gay record and points out that The Log Cabin Republicans’ claim that Romney will advance LGBT rights in any way is particularly ridiculous. In addition to agreeing wholeheartedly with that belief, I’d like to point out that in fact the LCR endorses a number of candidates they erroneously claim “appreciate that all Americans seek to enjoy the same freedoms and inalienable rights, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Although many of these endorsed candidates are in fact mostly pro-equality, such as Charlie Bass (NH-02), Bob Dold (IL-10), Judy Biggert (IL-11), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Nan Hayworth (NY-18), Richard Hanna (NY-22), Gary DeLong (CA-47), Andrew Roraback (CT-05), Gary DeLong (CA-47), John Dennis (CA-12), Chris Fields (MN-05), Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), many are not. The LCR has also endorsed the following candidates:
Scott Brown (MA) – Has worked to repeal marriage equality in Massachusetts, voted to suspend same-sex marriages in DC, opposes federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples in MA, opposed an anti-miscegenation law, doesn’t support ENDA, attempted to obstruct the DADT repeal, allied with Mitt Romney to oppose funding gay & lesbian youth services, wants mentions of “alternative sexual behavior” eliminated from public schools and has referred to same-sex parents as “not normal.”
Michael Baumgartner (WA) – Opposes same-sex marriage.
Elizabeth Emken (CA) – Believes marriage is between one man and one woman. (this is pretty damning as well, from a childhood friend of Elizabeth’s.)
John Campbell (CA-45) Given a 0% rating by the HRC on gay rights. He does oppose employment discrimination against LGBT.
Joe Carvin (NY-17) – Though considered socially liberal for a Republican, Carvin does oppose same-sex marriage (but is okay with domestic partnerships).
Kevin Raye (ME-02) – Does not support same-sex marriage.
Dave Reichert (WA-08) – In 2010, supported amendment to prevent same-sex marriage, voted yes on constitutionally defining marriage as one-man one-woman and given a 25% rating by the HRC because he did vote for prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
I doubt the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement will have much of an impact on election results come November, but their persistent willingness to throw their civil rights under the bus doesn’t do much for our overall cause, either, because there’s a giant swath of American People who think the gays are doing just fine, like Will & Grace. As Gary M. Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies in the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford, pointed out during the Prop 8 Trial in 2010:
“The public sees only gays and lesbians in larger cities. The public thinks that all gay men have advanced degrees. But people who are in the closet are likely to be lower status. The public has a misperception of the level of treatment of gays and lesbian, they don’t realize that not every gay man is Will from Will and Grace. Will is an attorney in New York with a large apartment. When people see this, they think gays don’t need protection. It makes public less sympathetic and makes public view numbers of gays and lesbians as smaller, which diminishes their political power.“
By publicly stating that basic civil rights are less important than corporate tax breaks, the Log Cabin Republicans contribute to a growing national illusion that LGBT people don’t need protection. But perhaps the truth is that the Log Cabin Republicans specifically don’t need protection — they’ve got health insurance, can afford neighborhoods or private schools that enable quality education for their offspring, and are apparently unconcerned about issues such as homeless gay teens and police violence against transgender folks.
I personally believe that as queer people, we are in a unique position outside of the mainstream which enables us to question dominant culture and fight on behalf of all outsiders and disenfranchised citizens — The Log Cabin Republicans clearly disagree. As Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore writes in That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, The Log Cabin Republicans “have more in common with the National Rifle Association than any sort of left agenda, queer or otherwise.”
By endorsing Romney, the Log Cabin Republicans are standing for much more than “a strong economy.” They’re standing against universal healthcare, they’re standing against education equality and they’re standing against women’s rights. As I’ve stated in the past, Planned Parenthood is one of the only places in the country where LGBT women and sex workers can obtain non-judgmental low-cost health care, and Mitt Romney wants to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Log Cabin Republicans argue that things like Mitt’s endorsement of the NOM pledge are superficial gestures and that his administration poses no real threat to the advancement of LGBT rights. It’s worth mentioning that if I told my mother that although my girlfriend didn’t really think I was a stupid self-entitled ugly bitch, she still called me a stupid self-entitled ugly bitch several times a day to keep me in my place, my mother would encourage me to break up with said girlfriend and perhaps attend therapy — even if said girlfriend was paying the rent. My mother would probably characterize that relationship as “emotionally abusive.” Or, as Barney Frank said in the video: “If you’re trying to change people, you don’t change them by rewarding them for continuing to act the way they’ve been acting.” Amen.