Romney Hires Openly Gay Spokesman, Conservative Groups Clutch Pearls in Horror

Last week, many were suggesting that Obama was consciously dialing back support of the gay community in order to court a more socially conservative voter by refusing to sign an executive order that would ensure federal contractors couldn’t discriminate against LGBT employees. This week, Romney received criticism from conservatives for the fact that the spokesman he’s hired is openly gay. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association called this a “message to the pro-family community” to “drop dead.” (Fischer in the past “has blamed homosexuals for the Holocaust, suggested banning Muslims from serving in the military and has strongly attacked Mormonism.”) It seems unlikely that Romney is actually trying to tell those who are most likely to support him to “drop dead,” or really anything rather than “please vote for me.” But it’s possible that he is trying to communicate something to another demographic — it may be that Romney wants the goodwill of voters who support gay rights, and his hiring of openly gay Richard Grenell is part of that.

Richard Grenell has served as a spokesman for the US Mission to the United Nations, and undertook a concerted campaign to have his partner officially recognized by diplomatic documentation, which ultimately didn’t succeed. The move to hire him has been lauded by a variety of groups, from gay conservative organization GOProud to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which said that “We applaud the participation of out professionals in government and politics. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, serving openly is important. It allows you to speak honestly about yourself and the LGBT community to colleagues inside campaigns and government offices.”

Interestingly, even before Bryan Fischer’s disparaging comment about Romney, Romney had already made statements distancing himself from Fischer and his organization’s rhetoric. At the Values Voter Summit last year, Romney said that “Our values ennoble the citizen and strengthen the nation. We should remember that decency and civility are values too… One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line, I think. Poisonous language doesn’t advance our cause. It’s never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind.” It’s possible that Romney’s statements are primarily a response to Fischer’s views on Mormonism, but for a candidate that’s often criticized for excessive changeability to become more appealing, that’s a pretty strong stance to take. Romney will never be a popular candidate with the gay community as a whole, nor should he be — but it’s interesting to imagine a candidate who opposes “poisonous language” and values “decency and civility,” at the very least.

It’s worth remembering that, as GOProud argued, that possibly the most important thing is that Grenell is the best person for the job, and Romney’s campaign has recognized that. But it’s also worth considering whether a candidate who opposes equal rights for queers on both a personal and policy level still feels the need to make an overture — whether our voices are strong enough that even a conservative candidate wants us us to know that he hears them.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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61 Comments

    • A lot islamophobia has racial undertones so I wouldnt necessarily say that some religiously persecuted would be more sympathetic, but, hey, its a start.

      + mormons and muslims are kinda religiously similar

        • Well, I’m no religious scholar but my Muslim grandparents do not really socialize with nonarabs/nonmuslims with the exception of their Mormon neighbors because they share similar values like rejecting alcohol, keeping family ties strong, education, chastity and belief in a founding prophet,etcetc

          I guess I shouldnt have exactly said /religiously/ because on believes in a multiple gods and the other believes that God as anything other than one is the most incorrect shit ever… but… like… as people/the way they practice their religion, they are similar.

          also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism_and_Islam

        • They’re only distantly related under the Abrahamic umbrella, but the similarities are striking… a sort of parallel evolution. Both have a prophet figure (called, in both cases, the “Prophet”) who singlehandedly created a new set of holy scripture with a basis in their understandings of (and dissatisfactions with) Christianity and Judaism at the time. Both claim to represent the corrected truth that was present but corrupted in Christianity and Judaism. Both re-centered the geographic-ethnic-linguistic heart of the religion from Jewish to their own background (white American or Arabic).

          By basing themselves on a single text with a single author, both offer a clear and coherent point of view, and provide answers for questions left unanswered in the standard Bible (detailed descriptions of Heaven and Hell, for example). Both set out a clear set of rules to govern believers. Standard Christianity and Judaism, on the other hand, have a variety of points of view embedded in their multi-author scriptures, and provide much more fodder for debates over what the “rules” and “teachings” are (and whether there truly are “rules” as such).

          Both were rather progressive when they originated, but by pinning themselves firmly to the then-progressive ethics they introduced, both have become associated with conservatism as time has passed.

          But most of all, in America, most of the people who would discriminate against Muslims would also discriminate against Mormons. That’s probably what Miriam was thinking of.

  1. For me, the story isn’t Romney, the story is Grenell. I will never truly understand gay republicans. I don’t have a problem with people having a different socio-economical standpoint. You’re for fiscal responsibility, trickle down economy, yada yada. But the GOP is fundamentally upheld by and indebted to the (batshit insane) christian right, the people who would outlaw all forms of queerness if they could and have monetarily supported imposing the capital punishment on lgbt people in Uganda.

    You may be able to rub elbows with them when it comes to gun ownership, universal healthcare or what have you, but the people who have the deciding vote within the GOP literally want to make your life a living hell and thinks you deserve to go to one after you die. It’s just mind boggling.

    TLDR: Romney is still a git.

        • Well now, Did your poorly uneducated mother and father teach you to speak like that? Such a sad sad sad girl. You don’t have to vote for him and no one asked you to. Just sit back and stew in your anger.

          • yes, because a)swear words inherently determine intelligence/education level and b) such a cool cool cool story bro.

          • Haha, I leave you in the very capable hands of Stephen Fry:

            ‘The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic.’

          • Robert, maybe we could all take you a bit more seriously if you weren’t so patronizing and actually learned proper english. Good for you though, trying to socialize with the grown ups all by yourself!

          • Says the misguided, sad little man who, in writing a comment chastising one about being “uneducated,” makes a shit-ton of punctuation and capitalization errors. Shit, son– if you’re gonna sit there acting high ‘n’ mighty about “proper English,” at least be consistent. (Or, alternatively, take your problematic personal attacks elsewhere, k, sport?)

          • i’m not american. i won’t ever get the politics, but oh the amount of respect i have for the smart women on this site and the way they can take out a lame-o in under seven swoops is what keeps me reading. love it, thanks, more please.

          • Bruce Vlianch, many years ago on the Log Cabin Republicans: Why don’t they just go out to the parking lot and beat themselves up?

    • The Republic Party is more than just the Christian Right, even if the Christian Right has largely coopted it. Some people are Republicans because they believe in small government and states’ rights. Whether the Republican party truly upholds either is disputable, but there are Republicans who are highly opposed to the turn the party has taken. They defy the Christian right, arguing that laws regulating personal behavior aren’t truly conservative or constitutional.

      I wish Democrats and Republicans would take the time to really learn about each other.

      I’m not a Republican, but my family is politically involved in the party. They’re aghast at the current candidates, too.

  2. Grenell’s made some terribly sexist/generally tasteless remarks via Twitter. He doesn’t get a pass for being gay. Not buying it, Romney. Want to seriously woo some gay votes? Tap RuPaul as your VP and listen to everything she tells you.

    • The GOP has done exactly what Glee has just done. As Dorothy Snarker so rightly said, apparently they were just joking about the anti-bullying message, since you know, they’re hiring someone who made a living outing people, relentlessly called a lesbian a man etc. Apparently, sexism, lesbophobia and bullying doesn’t matter if it comes from a gay man.

    • The blatant cynicism of the present Republican Party continues to shock me, even though by now it shouldn’t. Romney picking this guy because he’s the “best for the job” (arguable) and yet running on a homophobic platform is typical of the hypocrisy of the party in general. It’s like Dan Quayle, when asked what he would do if his 12-year-old got pregnant (“it’s a private family matter”), being outrageously, ignorantly, blind to the double standard.

      That Grenell chooses to be part of that is reason enough not to like him. But his unbelievably sexist public tweets tell us who he really his. He’s a misogynist, just like Romney, and that’s all I need to know.

    • yeah, I was just reading some selected highlights from Grenell’s twitter account (via Miriam’s link at the top of the comments). Rachel Maddow needs to “put on a necklace” ??? ummmm, no– you need to keep your gender policing to yourself, is what needs to happen.

  3. Noy a gay person, but am open to allow other people to do as their inclinations lead them to.
    Not a bigot either!

    Somehow I do have the notion that so-called ‘Severe’ conservative candidate Romney will eventually reveal a very ‘interesting’ final assessment of that.
    One that may not please neither the conservative brain-dead lemming Right-wing fundamentalists, or one that may offend the liberals at the same time.

  4. Sorry folks!!!
    Please Disregard my spewings for today as of 1800 CST.
    Simple matter of cheap Vodka adversely meeting up with me.
    I hope to avoid this conflageration in the furture.

    My sincere apologies.

  5. After an openly gay soldier in theater, asked the Florida audience about DADT, and was booed by the audience, I was further amazed that no one on stage stepped forth to take the soldiers side or quash the crowds reaction. Now Romney is flip-flopping around again, with the hiring of an openly gay person in his election bid. Romney is toast with Women and Latinos. Women and minorities are the center of the TEA-Republican trust distrust. The constant and repeated attacks on Planned Parenthood around the country shows the TEA-Republicans as desperate to return women back to the pre-Sufferage times, barefoot and pregnant. Romney’s Dream Act statement solidified minority visions under Romney. It definitely is a racial, social, economic and premeditated action to restrict women and minority rights. This is happening all over America, like Ohio, Texas and other states where the TEA party has taken root at local levels and in state houses, where they can control monies, infrastructure, projects, schooling and legislative actions. Restrictions at the state level and locally have inhibited and curtailed women’s rights with state laws governing reproductive rights specifically for women. Palin, Coulter, Bachmann and Ann Romney would stand by and help herd the women back into servitude, barefoot and pregnant. With these class-less beings creating lower levels of heath care for women and the strict enforcement of religious laws, women will lose their hard-fought battles of 1903-1919. Every woman should take note and re-assert their rights and privileges this coming November. Register to vote, vote and get out the vote!

  6. I know this is politics we’re talking about here, but why must we label everything? Was this guy specifically chosen because he’s gay? Why could it not have been because he is the most qualified person for the job, gay or not. Do we really need to know his sexual orientation and information about his private life.

    I don’t care to know anyone’s sexual orientation, it doesn’t matter to me. Let’s just get the right people in that can get the job done!

    • I understand where you’re coming from and I think your intentions are in the right place, but the problem is that when sexual orientation is not discussed, everyone is assumed to be straight, and this makes queer people invisible, and then youth with these same-sex feelings feel weird and alone or live these feelings are just feelings and could never become a relationship or anything, and this really fucks us up!
      And while I do not condone outing, sexual orientation IS a public identity. Every time a public figure casually mentions his wife, he is coming out as heterosexual (or bi, technically I suppose). Every time a man shows public affection for a woman, he is coming out as heterosexual.

  7. Fisher has blamed homosexuals for the Holocaust? Like, really? Why and how?

    (Sorry for unrelated comment, but I never thought one could think this… I personally would blame nazi ideology for the holocaust which was very much against homosexuality although that didn’t stop nazis from being gay, I’m used to people claiming the holocaust didn’t excist, but homosexuals causing it semms absurd)

  8. As I understand it, the bulk of the “gay republican” argument is summed up in this quote: “I agree with 95% of the Republican platform. I believe in local government. I’m in favor of individual rights rather than group rights. I believe free markets lead to free people and that the country needs a strong national defense. My life doesn’t have to be about being a homosexual. It doesn’t have to be entirely about that.”
    But, how is it small government when they pass legislation seeking to make personal, moral medical decisions for women? How is it smaller and less intrusive government when they seek to decide for gay people who they can and cannot marry?
    While I can understand some people identifying with some non-gay related issues concerning the Republican Party, I still find it difficult to vote for a party that seeks to undermine my 14th Amendment rights.
    While I’ll admit to there having been changes in the Republican party, I haven’t seen enough change I can vote for.

  9. Oh, and his new token-gay mouthpiece has said that Rachel Maddow needs to “put on a necklace” because she’s a “dead ringer for Justin Bieber” (as that_kate cited above). I guess we’re still supposed to act like this is somehow a step in the right direction? Hooray for gender-stereotyping, lesbophobic assholes! (Except not. At all.)

  10. I’m still not voting for him but it doesn’t seem far fetched that other people (a few) in the community would vote for him. I think sometimes people simplify things too much. A person in the community has more things going for them besides their sexual orientation. For example: I get upset when people assume because I’m an African American I should vote/act/think a certain way. It lessens my other equally characteristics.

  11. I’ve been lurking through intense threads on this website for the past hour and I must say, it is sexy as hell how quickly we jump to each others’ defense in debates. WERQ

  12. All politicians are, at best, mediocre and, at worst, terrible and awful. And they don’t care about you, none of them, unless you have a lot of money to give them (this includes Democrats, Republicans, Obama, Romney et al). Personally, I never even bothered to register to vote; I don’t see any point in it.

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