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. Sniffit

    Discrimination: Amurika's favorite pastime.

    May 23, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Contrary to what the GOP tells us, all Americans deserve equal rights.

    May 23, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. Chris Oregon

    % of Gays and Lesbians vs Non-Gays and Lesbians? Obviously, less than 1%.
    So, Democrats and Obama, the PROBLEM IS ECONOMY! HIGH grocery prices, HIGH apartment rentals, HIGH gas prices, LOW monthly incomes plus no salary increases, HIGH educational cost. AMERICA IS NOT ALL ABOUT GAYS AND LESBIANS - IT IS HUNGRY AND HURTING AMERICAN PEOPLE - IT IS ECONOMY STUPID! Sorry for my words, but, I am truly mad of these so-called CEO and president's agenda. MAN UP AND GROW UP OBAMA...!

    May 23, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    It has been reported that there are more gay Republicans in office than we know and they need to come out of the closet and support our gay/lesbian community. If President Obama, the man who holds the highest office in the land can support them because he's not a coward, those cowards need to stand up and be counted. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to our country.

    May 23, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Chris, the president has been addressing hundreds of issues without any GOP support. I take exception to your assertion. It is time for the GOP man up and to honor their oath to America, and not Grover Norquist and Mitch McConnell.

    May 23, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. California Conservative

    It's obvious that the democrats don't care to talk about jobs, only gay marriage.

    HEY DEMCORATS, THE ECONOMY IDIOTS

    May 23, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Valentina

    Good for Team Obama! This is one of the many issues that will be on the minds of voters when we go to the polls in November and which will help doom his re-election.

    May 23, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Conservatives love to put civil rights issues on a referendum, which is wrong. Allowing the majority to decide on the civil rights of the minority is not what Democracy is about. The minority will always lose. Referendums are for school budgets, term limits, property tax rates, that sort of thing.

    These Gay Marriage Bans that we keep seeing popping up at the ballot box are immoral. But, maybe we should play the game the way conservatives want to play it. Let's hold a referendum on whether or not we should be extending the tax cuts for the top 1%.

    May 23, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Obama campaign pits president vs. Romney on LGBT rights
    ============================================

    Our Divider-in-Chief in action again... The only group has HASN'T pitted against one another are the cats and the dogs. But there is stil time left....

    May 23, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Larry L

    @Chris Oregon

    % of Gays and Lesbians vs Non-Gays and Lesbians? Obviously, less than 1%.
    So, Democrats and Obama, the PROBLEM IS ECONOMY! HIGH grocery prices, HIGH apartment rentals, HIGH gas prices, LOW monthly incomes plus no salary increases, HIGH educational cost. AMERICA IS NOT ALL ABOUT GAYS AND LESBIANS – IT IS HUNGRY AND HURTING AMERICAN PEOPLE – IT IS ECONOMY STUPID! Sorry for my words, but, I am truly mad of these so-called CEO and president's agenda. MAN UP AND GROW UP OBAMA...!
    -----------------------------------------------------------–
    I tried to fact check your 1% comment and discovered a range of somewhat reliable estimates from 4-5%. Still, whatever the number, individual rights are important issues and especially important when those opposed to granting those rights aren't actually threatened in any way.

    The economy is critical – something the Bush Administration should have considered before dumping President Obama with the recession – with over 8.5 million jobs lost before Obama took office. It would also be good if the Republicans in Congress wouldn't block every debate and every vote in the Senate – with over 110 filibusters! The Republicans in the House are no better – using the debt ceiling as a weapon resulting in reduction of America's S&P rating. Do your homework and quit blaming the President for a recession caused by the Republicans.

    May 23, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. mcskadittle

    I really don't understand how Bigotry and Discrimination can be a states issue, it wasn't in the 1960's and isn't now

    May 23, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pass the popcorn please!!

    May 23, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    Nothing says "freedom" and "liberty" like "you can't do that."

    May 23, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Bill

    @Chris Oregon

    If the thingsyou mentioned are of a concern to you, there is no earthl reason to vote for Romney. Do you really think he will help "hurting and hungry people"? If you believe that, then by all means vote for Romney. This guy is so far out of touch with average Americans, it makes my head spin. Maybe he will hire you to work the car elevator in his 12,000 square foot manse on the Pacific. Or you could wash Ann's Cadillacs. It always amazes me that the least informed or educated people think that the GOP is some knight in shining armor that is on their side. Pathetic.

    May 23, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. betterdays

    As of six weeks ago, a grand total of five gay people in the U.S. were not going to vote for Obama, and now it's down to three. Whoopee.

    May 23, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Myviewis

    Oh no, Romney is the most damaging because while he would be working on lowering our unemployment to 6% Obama would be concentrating on Gay issues. Wait a minute, I thought Bain and Bain Capital were Obama's lead selling point against Romney. Obama changed his mind after finding out that Bain Capital has thousands of employees?

    May 23, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  17. Myviewis

    Wow, thank you Chris Oregon. It finally occured to someone that Gays and Lesbians also need jobs and are also unemployed. My niece was unemployed, is a Lesbian and took a job very far away.

    May 23, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Sniffit - Nothing says "freedom" and "liberty" like "you can't do that."
    ==================================================
    So now Sniffin is an anarchist? I guess you're ready to just get rid of all the laws on businesses too? Or is that leftists just wan tto be able to pick and choose what laws they wish to follow? Yeah, that's about right.

    May 23, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Sue

    Based on the Quinnipiac poll released today regarding Florida (that showed Romney leading by +6)......23% of the voters polled said that they will NOT vote for Obama due to his support for gay marriage, only 11% said that they would vote for Obama because of his gay marriage support. The majority of Independents did NOT support gay marriage. So, Obama has lost Florida due to gay marriage--and he will also lose the swing states of North Carolina, Virginia, and Missouri because of it. Some political analysists said that one of the reasons that Bush won Ohio, was due to the Democrats' support of gay marriage, deja vu again?? So, basically, the only states that would support Obama and his support for gay marriage, are those that he would have won anyways!!

    May 23, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Myviewis wrote:

    Oh no, Romney is the most damaging because while he would be working on lowering our unemployment to 6%....
    ---------------
    Not only is that wishful thinking, but he is way off message from the Ryan Plan. Unemployment must hit below 5% for the Ryan to meet his own deficit targets. Targets that do not balance the budget for at least 40 years. How is that for a common sense solution?

    May 23, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. Sue

    Go and look for the Politico article that summarizes the Quinnipiac poll that was just released today which shows Romney leading in Florida by +6. The article clearly states, Romney took a lead over Obama in Florida due to the gay marriage issue and the economy. The MAJORITY in the state do not support gay marriage, and that includes the majority of Independents.

    May 23, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

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

    How is supporting something favored by the majority of Americans being a "divider"? Perhaps you meant to more accurately refer to your GOBP cult, which is a cesspool of hatewingers out to demonize all the "others".

    May 23, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. TheGayAtheist

    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.

    May 23, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. scott

    well Sue...its May...we dont vote in May...we vote in Novemeber....OBAMA 2012

    May 23, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Namejkane fl live FROM ROMNEYCARE BIG DIG IN BOSTON, 15BILLION DALLAR ROMNEY FISCILE CONSERVATIVE FAILED GOV,THREE TIME LOSER

    Romney the three time loser has no chance in Nov,could not get realected in mass .lost mass senate race ,lost to mccain and will lose in Dem landslide in Nov .

    May 23, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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