By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com August 16 2012 4:06 PM ET
An anti-Mitt Romney campaign is lobbying the Log Cabin Republicans to withhold their endorsement from the Republican presidential nominee, saying he would "reverse decades of progress."
The "Mitt Gets Worse" campaign wrote a letter to Log Cabin this week and launched a petition that says the pick of Paul Ryan as running mate only solidifies its case that Romney is no better than George W. Bush on LGBT rights.
Log Cabin's national board voted 22-2 in 2004 to withhold its endorsement from Bush, citing the president's vocal support for an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage and his backing of similar efforts at the state level in speeches on the stump and during public appearances. Romney has signed a pledge to the National Organization for Marriage saying he too would back an amendment to the Constitution. And Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, is on the record with two votes in favor of the failed Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006.
But R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin's executive director, interprets the selection of Ryan differently, pointing out that Ryan emphasizes economic and budgetary issues over social issues when on the stump.
"For the top of the ticket, Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan was a clear signal the campaign wants to focus on bolstering economic growth and bringing about needed government reform," he said. "As Ryan stated 'this campaign promises equal opportunity,' and that is something all Americans, LGBT or otherwise, can appreciate, especially in this economy."
Log Cabin has so far endorsed Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Richard Tisei, a former Massachusetts state senator who could become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. Its endorsements are decided by a majority vote of the national board of directors, and Cooper says endorsements would continue to roll out through early October.
Cooper said a number of factors play into whether Log Cabin makes an endorsement — a candidate's record on issues it values, including equality legislation, their viability as a candidate, input from its chapters and consultation with Republican Party allies and coalition groups.
One factor that likely won't play into its decision is the petition.
"George Soros-funded petitions from leftists such as Courage Campaign or the Stonewall Democrats do not factor into the Log Cabin Republicans endorsement process. They can keep sending them right into our spam filter," Cooper said. "From securing 'don’t ask, don’t tell' repeal to winning votes for marriage in New York, Log Cabin Republicans have been successful in our strategy of gaining support from Republican lawmakers whose offices these petitioners couldn't find with a GPS. We will continue our work for a stronger, more inclusive GOP without regard for their 'advice.'"
Cooper himself wrote an op-ed recently for The Daily Caller, a conservative website, headlined, "How Romney-Ryan can reach out to gay voters." It called for Romney to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which Ryan voted in favor of in 2007. (Critics point out Ryan had also sided with a procedural move to prevent the vote from happening.)
Cooper also called for Romney-Ryan to support an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discriminating in employment against LGBT people. Earlier this year, President Obama backed away from a call by LGBT activists to issue the order, saying he'd rather focus on passing ENDA through Congress.