Click here to go to the Home Page Romney’s Gay Fall Guy Grenell – Inclusion - By The Reverend Irene Monroe - BC Editorial Board

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The 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.

When 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.

But 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.

What 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 contingent.

In a statement obtained by “Right Turn,” Jennifer Rubin’s commentary from a conservative perspective in The Washington Post, Grenell stated:

I 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 his team.

In 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 Grenell.

“Romney 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.

Contrary 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 it.

For 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.

“Last 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?”

Hard-nosed 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.

And 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.

For 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?”

While 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.

And 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 conference calls.

It 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. A 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 Click here to contact the Rev. Monroe.

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May 3, 2012 - Issue 470
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