Romney Receives Low Ratio of Applause to Boos at the NAACP Convention

Mitt Romney made an asshat of himself yesterday at the NAACP Convention in Houston, Texas, as he pledged to eliminate Obamacare and told the audience that if they had been searching for a man to make things better in the African American community, they were looking right at him, going so far as to helpfully instruct the audience “You take a look.” These and other ill-advised messages to the nation’s most influential civil rights organizations were soundly booed. However, he was met with enthusiastic applause when he brought up his oppositional views on gay marriage, despite the fact that the NAACP passed a resolution in support of marriage equality nearly two months ago.

Early in the speech, Romney claims to “hope to represent all Americans, of every race, creed and sexual orientation.” Except apparently the gay ones who want to get married. He attempted to parlay this into an appeal to black voters, whom he assumed are “pro-family” in the way that means “anti-gay,” with a quote from NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Hooks: “The family remains the bulwark and the mainstay of the Black community. That great truth must not be overlooked.” Romney went on to say, “Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country, and that must be our goal. As president, I will promote strong families, and I will defend traditional marriage.”

It seems Romney did not get the memo from the young conservatives for the Freedom to Marry that gay marriage is actually in line with the Republican Party’s traditional values such as “limited government, personal freedom, and family values.” In fact, according to Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Fred Sainz, Romney doesn’t even approve of civil unions, an extremist position he doesn’t even share with former President George W. Bush.

Not surprisingly, Romney’s pledge to fight marriage equality was praised by the National Organization for Marriage. NOM president Brian Brown said, “Governor Romney has it exactly right that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a pro-family policy that uplifts American families, especially in the black community.” Lacking from Brown’s praise was, of course, exactly how the black community is uplifted by discrimination against gay people.

The applause Romney received for voicing this opinion was merely the eye of a shit storm of the audience’s displeasure. But it was a shit storm that he planned to walk into. Shortly after his speech, Romney confirmed on Fox, “I think we expected that.” And it was an expectation that was politically calculated. According to Rachel Maddow, “It seemed like Mitt Romney wanted to get booed… He wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage. It looks like he is not wasting any time in doing so.”

Later that night, Romney processed his feelings about the boos at a fundraiser. He said, “Your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from the government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget that nothing is really free.” Then again, this is coming from a guy with a net worth of two hundred million dollars, which probably makes everything feel free. Romney’s motivation for giving such a speech to the NAACP remains sketchy. It seems like a risky move for a politician, but considering that 96% of African Americans say they would vote for Obama, he didn’t have a lot to lose. It seems that his words were meant for an audience other than the one in front of him, to show his supporters that he isn’t tailoring his platforms to fit the people he’s speaking to. So if anyone in Romney’s camp had any doubt that his hyper-privileged and homophobic views were in danger of changing, they can now rest easy.

Gabrielle used to be a contributing editor at Autostraddle. These days, she's the editorial director at NYLON, an international media company for millennial women, which obviously she tries to make as gay as possible. She lives in Brooklyn and her two favorite colors are black and blonde.

Gabrielle has written 96 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. “It seemed like Mitt Romney wanted to get booed… He wanted to wear that around his neck like a badge of courage. It looks like he is not wasting any time in doing so.” I think Maddow is exactly right in this — if 96% of African-American voters say they are voting Obama, it seems like a bad career move to make this speech. And my goodness, when he says “sumpin” like twelve times, I just want to shake him by the shoulders and tell him NO.

  2. “Governor Romney has it exactly right that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a pro-family policy that uplifts American families, especially in the black community.”

    Rolling my eyes so hard right now. I wish people (especially white people!) would stop speaking for African Americans as a whole. The thing they’re missing here is that, even if more black voters are against same-sex marriage than white voters, most black voters aren’t against it enough to vote for Romney (or just about any Republican, for that matter). And to speak about black people like this, as though we are a monolith, erases queer black people (newsflash: WE EXIST) and black allies.

    • It was that ‘especially in the black community’ bit that caught my eye. How can this policy be ‘especially’ beneficial for the black community, as distinct from any other? Is he suggesting that black people need actual laws to keep men and women marrying each other, whereas most people from other demographics don’t? WTH is he on about?! If it was especially in line with the way people in the black community actually live, then it wouldn’t need to be a policy, would it?

      Basically, he was just trying to find a way to suggest that black people as a group should support Willard Mittens, because he has their best interests at heart. Pfffft!

  3. That was not an “enthusiastic applause” from the audience for the defense of “traditional marriage.” I’m tired of the black community getting painted with a broad brush as being homophobic, as if the black community has more homophobes than any other racial group. The problem is religious conservatives no matter what the race, color, sex, creed, etc, etc.

    I think Romney did this to appeal to the Republicans. A way to say yeah I went to talk to them (black people) and I still kept my position and let them know who’s boss.

  4. Let’s not forget that he supposedly flew in some African American supporters from his camp, just so that he could have folks to cheer him on. What a loser.

  5. I too am sick of the African American community being painted as this homophobic community. I am African American and am loved and treated well in my community. Family, friends and whomever. This portrayal of the black community as homophobic disregards the multitudes of supportive inclusive loving people my queer peers and I enjoy everyday.

    • I’m so sorry if you felt like I was painting the African American community as homophobic! I didn’t mean to imply that at all. I was criticizing Romney for being the worst, and not trying to infer anything about the audience.

    • I’m African American and a lesbian and sadly my family and close African friends are against gay marriage. Not everyone in the African American community is homophobic but a good majority are against gay marriage.

      • I’m sorry you haven’t been able to experience the acceptance I have, I guess we can suffice it to say everyone’s experience is different, but it’s important to know that that love and acceptance is out there.

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