Obama campaign pits president vs. Romney on LGBT rights
May 23rd, 2012
03:05 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama campaign pits president vs. Romney on LGBT rights

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's recent decision to support same-sex marriage was the lead selling point against Mitt Romney in the president's campaign announcement Wednesday of a new drive to court the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) community.

"The choice we're facing as a country and a community could not be clearer," said Joe Solmonese, a national campaign co-chair and president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). "We could re-elect a leader who's working with our community toward full equality under the law, or we could sit back and watch Mitt Romney take us back to where we started."

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His comments came on a conference call with reporters to discuss the rollout of a grassroots initiative titled, "Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama."

Along with phone banks, trainings and house parties to reach voters, the campaign's plan may also target gay Republicans.

"That will be a big focus of ours," Solmonese said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the HRC at that point.

While the campaign did not lay out specific goals in urging gay GOP voters to cross over to the Democratic column, they stressed the importance of engaging the voting bloc now in the event Romney, who supports a federal marriage amendment, wins the election.

"The federal marriage amendment is the ultimate deal breaker for us. It is the enshrining of discrimination into the U.S. Constitution," Solmonese said. "It is important to make sure every member of this community - Republicans in particular - understand that distinction."

The campaign warned that Romney would be the most damaging president for LGBT rights, pointing to his call for a federal amendment, which would define marriage between a man and a woman, and his support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"Out there among our opponents, the fear of the progress we are making with regard to our success in marriage equality is genuine and it is palpable," Solmonese said. "So the fight to get that done (pass the amendment), I think, is absolutely real, if he were president."

While Romney has supported the right for same-sex couples to adopt, he has said he would leave any laws involving domestic partnership benefits and hospital visitation rights up to the states.

Political analysts say Obama regained some lost fanfare among his liberal base when he made his announcement in favor of marriage equality earlier this month.

Previously, the president had been murky on his personal view over the issue, saying he was simply "evolving" on the issue after having once opposed it, which left many in the LGBT community displeased.

While he satisfied many on the left by taking a firm stand on same-sex marriage, certain groups –including some black evangelicals and so-called Reagan Democrats - expressed dismay over his decision.

On the conference call Wednesday, however, campaign officials said they were confident the move would not have severe political implications for the president and stressed recent polls that show marriage equality as a less-than-heavy issue on voters' minds this election.

"This election, like all elections, from this point until November is going to be like a roller coaster ride," Solmonese said. "The president did what he thought the right thing to do was and we'll move forward from there."

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. skeet0672


    For every one Gay-American, ther are 15, 20, or even 25 non-gay supporters.

    The question is not what percentage of Americans are Gay-Americans, the question is...Why don't the Christians just shut up already?
    Christians are the new minority..and I don't aim to be nice about it.
    TAX THE CHURCH...heavily.
    You are right about one thing...Christians are the new minority. I wonder when you will start voting to grant us rights...like the freedom of speech without being verbally assaulted. It is interesting that most of the posts of gay rights supporters seem to feel the need to bash another segment of the population – Christians. Using hate speech to condemn so-called hate speech. I find that mildly ironic.

    May 23, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Our Divider-in-Chief in action again... The only group has HASN'T pitted against one another are the cats and the dogs. "

    Well, I'm sure if the dogs start demanding that we ostracize the cats and prohibit them from having the same rights as everyone else, he'll have to come to the cats' defense as well.

    May 23, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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