presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney,
likes to play it safe. And Romney avoids controversy,
by any means necessary- even if he has to lie to, flip-flop
for, or somersault for his supporters.
the news hit the airwaves on the evening of April 19th
that Richard Grenell, an openly gay Republican, was appointed
to be Romney’s national security and foreign policy spokesman,
anti-gay G.O.P criticism erupted.
the elephant that sits neither quietly nor invisibly in
the G.O.P’s room is that the Republican Party is as gay
as the Democratic Party - just more closeted.
would have been the party’s first out presidential campaign
spokesman, signaling a shift in broadening its appeal
to Republican moderates and LGBTQ voters, showed rather
the continued anti-gay stronghold of the G.O.P.’s social
conservatives. And less than a fortnight later, on May
1st, Grenell abruptly resigned, embarrassing not only
the Romney camp, but also the party’s growing anti-homophobic
a statement obtained by “Right Turn,” Jennifer Rubin’s
commentary from a conservative perspective in The Washington
Post, Grenell stated:
have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the
Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While
I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s
foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world
stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the
issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan
discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from
a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney
for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message
to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and
2001, President Bush appointed Grenell, the veteran Republican
communications strategist, as his Director of Communications
and Public Diplomacy for the U.S. Permanent Representative
to the U.N. Before coming to the U.N., Grenell served
as a spokesman for several Republican officials: N.Y.
Governor George Pataki, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding,
Michigan Rep. Dave Camp, and South Carolina then-Representative
Mark Sanford before Sanford was elected governor. As a
party loyalist, who has been on the Republican scene for
decades, no one would have fathomed a party backlash against
picks out & loud gay as a spokesman. If personnel
is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop
dead,” Bryan J. Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for
the American Family Association,
and conservative radio talk show host wrote in his tweet.
to Fischer’s beliefs, Grenell is very much a family man.
He and his partner have been together for nearly a decade.
Fischer’s fear is that Grenell is a proponent for marriage
equality, but he’s only publicly critical of LGBTQ Democratic
leaders’ and Obama’s lukewarm strategy toward winning
example, in a March 16 op-ed titled “Gay Dems excuse Obama’s
failings for party invitations” in the LGBTQ D.C. newspaper
Washington Blade, Grenell challenged LGBTQ leaders
for not taking a no-holds-barred stance with Obama.
summer, President Obama reiterated his opposition
to gay marriage in New York City one day before
New York politicians passed marriage equality for their
state...The president and his political advisers surely
must have calculated the con$equences for taking such
a timely stand. And they must have decided there was more
benefit to opposing gay marriage than supporting it...There
are Republicans and other Democrats more supportive of
gay equality issues than Obama – and some just as tepid
– so why are gay leaders putting all their trust into
a man that isn’t performing?”
social conservatives like Fischer are worried about Grenell’s
public endorsement of same-sex marriage - the very antithesis
of Romney’s and the Republican platform.
with a right-wing organization like National Organization
for Marriage (NOM) endorsing Romney, and whose key objective
is courting black churches for their strategic 2012 election
game plan to drive a wedge between LGBTQ voters and African
American voters, Grenell can be perceived by some Republican
homophobes as a potential and future flip-flopper.
example, in The National Review online, Matthew
J. Franck wrote: “Suppose Barack Obama comes out - as
Grenell wishes he would - in favor of same-sex marriage
in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.
How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp
from Romney to Obama?”
the Romney camp attempted to do damage control concerning
Grenell’s resignation, it did nothing in terms of a public
statement supporting its appointment of Grenell during
the political dust-up.
during the two weeks of Grenell’s position in the post,
Grenell was neither publicly put out to comment on national
security matters nor was he used on press foreign policy
has always been clear that Romney is neither a friend
nor an ally to the LGBTQ community. But it is also evident
that Romney is neither a friend nor an ally to those LGBTQ
Republicans who would work on his behalf to get him elected.
Editorial Board member, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion
columnist, theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of
the African-American Roundtable of the Center for Lesbian and
Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific
School of Religion.
native of Brooklyn, Rev. Monroe is a graduate from Wellesley
College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University,
and served as a pastor at an African-American church before
coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as
a Ford Fellow. She was recently named to MSNBC’s list
of 10 Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author
of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible
Prayers for Not’So’Everyday Moments. As an African-American
feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society
that is frequently invisible. Her website is
to contact the Rev. Monroe.