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Queer Talk: Log Cabin Republicans Clarify a ‘Qualified’ Endorsement of Romney **UPDATED**

In an earlier post today I noted that the long in coming Log Cabin Republican endorsement of Romney was clearly not made easily, only two weeks before election day. I wondered about the headline of the announcement — “With Endorsement, Log Cabin Republicans Declare ‘We Are Americans First’ — not including Romney’s name.

Since then LCR has released a longer, more detailed explanation of what they now call a “qualified endorsement,” with the headline still omitting Romney’s name. The rather extensive explanation LCR provides is most obviously directed to LCR members, and other LGBT persons who vote Republican. No doubt the endorsement, even qualified, will have LCR and LGBT Republican critics. But the explanation also seems aimed more broadly, especially in the final section. It’s also an example, as I’ve written before, of what political partisan organizations deal with when trying to balance party loyalty (and access) with constituent support. How well the balancing is done … well, you decide.

Below is the excerpted release; emphasis mine except were indicated. Following that is the response from Stonewall Democrats.

We Are Americans First

Presidential endorsements are serious business. The decision to say, ‘we stake our name and our reputation’ on a candidate’s worthiness for the nation’s highest office says as much about an organization’s principles as it does the candidate.

As the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of LGBT Americans and their allies, Log Cabin Republicans work within the GOP to make the conservative case for pro-equality policies and legislation. Since Log Cabin’s founding in the late 1970s, we have believed in a simple idea: building a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party requires Republicans reaching out to Republicans.

The freedom to work without fear of discrimination, the freedom to serve in our nation’s military, and the freedom to marry are all issues of vital importance. As we considered our endorsement decision, we did not degrade these issues as irrelevant, nor did we overlook the harm that is done to the Republican brand when our standard-bearers appear to be caught up in an outdated culture war.

But as we condemn the aspects of the GOP platform which work to exclude our families, we are still able to cheer the vision for America which was presented in Tampa, where success is a virtue, equal opportunity is ensured, and leaders recognize that it is the American people, not government, that build our nation and fuel its prosperity.

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.

We are confident that there will be no retreat from the significant gains we’ve made in recent years, most importantly on repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ With regard to the LGBT issue most likely to reach the president’s desk and most vital to many in our community today — workplace nondiscrimination — we are persuaded that we can work with a Romney administration to achieve a desirable outcome. And for those people who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann. Otherwise, our decision would have been different.

After long consideration, weighing input from our members and chapters, and dialogue with the Mitt Romney campaign and the candidate, the National Board of Directors of the Log Cabin Republicans have elected to issue a qualified endorsement for Governor Romney for president.

Significance of a Qualified Endorsement (emphasis in original)

The qualified nature of this endorsement means that Log Cabin Republicans will be most active in our support for House and Senate candidates. Our membership base and network of chapters nationwide will be actively supporting our allies in Congress as part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ‘Operation Rolling Surge’ deployment program. …

Regarding the governor’s signature on the National Organization for Marriage pledge during the Republican primaries (emphasis in original)

From the day Governor Romney signed this pledge, Log Cabin has been outspoken in our opposition to this exercise in an outdated politics of division. Even with this endorsement, we will continue to voice our disagreement with any call for a constitutional amendment federalizing a definition of marriage that excludes LGBT families.

In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement from an otherwise qualified candidate, particularly given the gravity of the economic and national security issues currently at stake.

Conclusion (emphasis in original)

There has been discussion about whether we, as members of Log Cabin Republicans, are LGBT first or Republican first. Ultimately, we believe the answer is neither. We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country.

Our endorsement of Mitt Romney is not free. We commit, here and now, that we will work with the party as we are able, and challenge the party as it is necessary, to ensure that it lives up to its highest ideals of limited government and individual freedom. The Log Cabin Republicans motto is ‘inclusion wins.’ If LGBT Americans are serious about winning equality for all, rather than merely playing politics, Republicans must be part of the team.

The release in response to the above, from Stonewall Democrats, begins:

Log Cabin Republicans Sell Out the LGBT Community; Endorse Mitt Romney

Today, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney for president. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis had the following reaction:

‘The Log Cabin Republicans have proven once and for all that they are not an organization aligned with the LGBT movement. They are a Republican front group bumbling their way into fooling LGBT voters that it’s OK to support a party that would legislate us back into the closet. …’

(Log Cabin Republicans Believe in America Romney Endorsement photo via LCR)

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