By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com June 20 2012 10:34 AM ET
Mitt Romney received his first endorsement from a group representing gay Americans when GOProud voted to support the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Tuesday night, saying that the businessman and former Massachusetts governor brings “the experience and expertise to turn this economy around.”
In a statement, the group for gay conservatives and their allies announced it had “enthusiastically,” but not unanimously, decided to back Romney despite his support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit marriage to the union of one man and one woman.
“GOProud is prepared to commit significant resources to help make Mitt Romney the next President of the United States,” said Lisa De Pasquale, interim GOProud board chair and former CPAC director. The group plans to have a large presence at the Republican National Convention this September in Tampa, where it will hold the annual Homocon event.
The endorsement statement contrasted the economic records of President Obama and Romney in sharp terms, while also taking aim at advocates who focus exclusively on LGBT rights.
“Not only does President Obama not understand how the free markets work – he is openly hostile to free market capitalism,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud executive director. “President Obama’s repeated attacks on Governor Romney’s private sector record underscore this President’s fundamental lack of understanding of how our economy works. Instead of demonizing free markets, President Obama should be focused on creating an economic environment that encourages free market investments and creates jobs.
“For far too long, the gay left in this country has been allowed to dictate what they believe qualify as ‘gay issues,’” he continued. “We think that jobs, the economy, healthcare, retirement security and taxes are all ‘gay issues,’ and on every single one of those issues, Mitt Romney is light years better than President Obama.”
The statement did not mention Richard Grenell, the openly gay national security spokesman who resigned from the Romney campaign in May after an outcry from religious conservatives led by the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. Grenell denied that his sexual orientation played a role in his departure, but the tumultuous episode raised questions about the extent to which the candidate would associate publicly with gay advocates.
GOProud spokesman Christopher Barron said the Romney campaign was pleased to learn of his organization's support.
“We have communicated our endorsement to the campaign,” he said. “They were happy to receive the endorsement.”
Barron was one of two board members who did not vote to endorse Romney. He supports Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential nominee who announced his support for marriage equality last year. President Obama stated his personal support in May.
Christian Berle, deputy executive director for the Log Cabin Republicans said that the GOProud endorsement was “not much of a surprise.” Romney clinched the nomination last month when he won the Texas primary.
“They had long said that they would endorse whoever the Republican Party would nominate,” he said. “That goes in line with their consistent messaging that they would support a Republican candidate regardless of their position."
Berle said that his organization, the largest group representing gay Republicans, would make an endorsement around the time of the convention, if it endorses at all. Log Cabin endorsed John McCain in 2008, but it did not endorse George W. Bush in 2004 because of his support for a federal marriage amendment.
“We will of course make an announcement on whether or not we are endorsing Governor Romney,” he said. “We are looking to see Republicans return to the White House, but in doing so, we must have a Republican nominee whose sole focus is on jobs and the economy, not one who distracts by bringing up social issues that turn off moderates, women and younger voters.”