Grenell to Join Romney Team; Left and Right Attack Openly Gay Republican

by Stephen H. Miller on April 22, 2012

updated April 25, 2012

Mitt Romney’s campaign said last week that Richard Grenell, the former Bush administration spokesman at the United Nations, was joining his team as a spokesman on foreign policy issues. Although the Washington Post story doesn’t mention it, the Advocate and others have previously reported that Grenell is openly gay and, according to reports, lives in California with his long-time partner, Matthew Lashey, a media and entertainment company executive. The Advocate also noted that Grenell fought, unsuccessfully, to have his partner listed alongside the spouses of other U.N. diplomats.

Romney has distanced himself from his one-time strong support for gay legal equality and reiterated his opposition to gay marriage, the banning of which he would add to the U.S. Constitution. But Romeny has said he hasn’t, and won’t, discriminate in
hiring. Whether Grenell’s appointment, given his advocacy, becomes an issue will be interesting to watch.

More. I assumed Grenell’s appointment would be attacked by the social right (and it was), but it’s the left-liberal blogosphere (for instance here, and here) and [added: some] LGBT “progressives” who have declared war on Grenell. Whether this is character assassination for insufficient political correctness (tweets mocking Hillary! And Newt’s wives!) or not, carried out by the audience that delights in Bill Maher’s rabid attacks on GOP women, it’s further evidence that the one thing the left and Democratic Party loyalists hate most are gay Republicans, even those with a history of fighting for gay equality within the GOP.

Furthermore. Via the Washington Post: The campaign and Grenell are dealing with a backlash from left and right. You’d expect it from the right, but the behavior of “progressives” in trying to block the appointment of an openly gay, pro-gay-equality voice reveals the shamelessness of the partisan left. I’ve said it before but it remains sadly true: their worst nightmare is that the GOP should become less anti-gay and challenge the one true party for gay dollars and votes.

Why this matters: The Washington Post also reports: “Two weeks from now, North Carolina will hold a public referendum on what could become one of the toughest anti-gay measures in the country.… But President Obama did not touch the subject when he appeared in Chapel Hill on Tuesday—even though it is roiling the electorate there.” Why should he, as long as the GOP remains anti-gay, no need to spend political capital on a slavishly loyal LGBT bloc.

{ 22 comments }

involved April 22, 2012 at 10:19 am

You may want to check out his twitter feed. He may be openly gay – a good thing – but he’s also an arrogant misogynist prick – not so good. It certainly explains the Romney connection, however.

Tom Scharbach April 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Romney has alternatively distanced himself from his one-time strong support for gay legal equality and reiterated his opposition to gay marriage, the banning of which he would add to the U.S. Constitution. But Romeny has said he hasn’t, and won’t, discriminate in his own hiring.

“Distanced himself” is an interesting way to put it.

The fact it is news that Romney hired an openly gay campaign staffer shows just how far to the right he’s positioned himself. I don’t recall Bush’s gay appointments lighting up the news boards.

Jorge April 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

You have a bad memory. They certainly lit up the religious right’s.

Tom Scharbach April 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm

You have a bad memory. They certainly lit up the religious right’s.

Yeah, sure. Heck, the fact that Jenna or the other one had a gay hairdresser lit up the religious right at one point. If President Bush let an openly gay couple onto the White House lawn for the Easter Egg Roll, the religious right “news” would have been calling for burning Easter Bunnies.

But I’m talking about real media.

Doug April 22, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Why would an ‘out’ gay man join the Romney campaign that wants to reinstate DADT, is against marriage equality, civil unions and employment non-discrimination, and supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as 1 man and 1 women. Grenell must be filled with self-hatred.

another steve April 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Get your facts right if you want to be taken seriously. Romney has said he would NOT reinstate DADT — he’s not Rick Santorum.

If you want to move the GOP, you have to put pressure on it from the outside, but you also have to work from the inside. But many LGBT Democrats are perfectly happy with an anti-gay GOP.

Tom Scharbach April 24, 2012 at 9:34 am

Get your facts right if you want to be taken seriously. Romney has said he would NOT reinstate DADT.

That’s true up to a point. Romney said that he was “not planning” to reinstate DADT “at this stage”. He has never uttered a word of support for DADT repeal nor ruled out reinstating DADT at another “stage”.

To be precise, here is Romney’s statement to the Des Moines Register: “That’s already occurred. I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage. I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, due to the complicating features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down, and moving in that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem.

If you want to move the GOP, you have to put pressure on it from the outside, but you also have to work from the inside.

I agree, that the latter point is the point I make over and over again on this forum. If you want the Republican Party to change, get active in the party at county, state and national levels. Don’t just sit and complain about progressive/liberal gays and lesbians and/or the Democratic Party.

Houndentenor April 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

Working from the inside? LOL I watched the GOP primaries. It was a race to see who could be more anti-gay. How’s that “working from the inside” going? Not very well, obviously.

Tom Scharbach April 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

“Working from the inside” hasn’t been working in the Republican Party because the kind of “working from the inside” that most conservatives seem to practice — supporting anti-equality politicians to get a “seat at the table”, close to the proximity of power — doesn’t work.

Grenell, who worked for Bush and just signed on with Romney, is an example. Traynham, who worked as a senior Santorum staffer, is another. So is Mehlman.

What works — or, to be more accurate, what has worked reasonably well in the Democratic Party — is something entirely different — getting involved at the county, state and national levels in the party and pushing for change.

Houndentenor April 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I’m reserving judgment for now. Yes, his comment about Rachel Maddow needing to wear a necklace so she wouldn’t look like Justin Beeber was stupid. (Although I have to admit that the website of Lesbians who look like Justin Beeber was hilarious!) On the other hand, anyone who mocks Calista Gingrich can’t be all bad.

Jorge April 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I assumed Grenell’s appointment would be attacked by the social right, but it’s the left-liberal blogosphere and LGBT “progressives” who have declared war on Grenell.

I don’t see that established in the link you gave.

Adam April 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I agree with Jorge. One huffpo piece about Grenell’s anti-media stance (and really in this day and age who doesn’t love to hate the media) does not demonstrate that the “left-liberal blogosphere and LGBT progressives” declared war on him.

Mark F. April 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm

“Working from the inside? LOL I watched the GOP primaries. It was a race to see who could be more anti-gay. How’s that “working from the inside” going? Not very well, obviously.”

Almost half of the New Hampshire GOP legislators declined to try to overturn marriage rights. Romney has said he’s not going to try to reinstate DADT.

Progress, progress.

Houndentenor April 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm

“…the behavior of “progressives” in trying to block the appointment of an openly gay, pro-gay-equality voice reveals the shamelessness of the partisan LGBT left.”

How can “progressives” block an appointment to the Romney campaign? They can criticize him, but that’s what the opposition party does. Nothing they say or do can “block” an appointment to a campaign post. That’s a ridiculous statement. You’re basically attacking liberals for criticizing the Romney campaign? LOL

esurience April 25, 2012 at 5:02 pm

“but the behavior of “progressives” in trying to block the appointment of an openly gay, pro-gay-equality voice reveals the shamelessness of the partisan LGBT left.”

What are you saying here? That Grenell shouldn’t be attacked just because he’s gay? That his sexual orientation should give him a pass among progressives? That Romney shouldn’t be attacked because he hired a gay person?

I don’t understand.

Grenell may be pro-gay, that’s great. But he’s working to get a guy elected who supports a federal constitutional amendment to enshrine gay people as 2nd class citizens (by prohibiting us from marrying).

So… yeah. Progressives, and the LGBT left (or any LGBT person or ally for that matter), would be insane to be supporting Romney, no matter how many Uncle Toms he hires.

Tom Scharbach April 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm

But President Obama did not touch the subject when he appeared in Chapel Hill on Tuesday—even though it is roiling the electorate there.” Why should he, as long as the GOP remains anti-gay, no need to spend political capital on a slavishly loyal LGBT bloc.

Good job on distorting the story, Stephen.

The President’s campaign issued a statement in mid-April, drawing the ire of the Catholic Bishops and other anti-marriage groups: “While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples,” said Cameron French, his North Carolina campaign spokesman. “That’s what the North Carolina ballot initiative would do – it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples – and that’s why the President does not support it.”

I see where we are headed on IGF. No discussion of Romney’s positions, which must embarrass even you, while you use every opportunity to attack liberals, progressives, Democrats and the President. It is absurd. Get it over with. Endorse Romney and all he stands for …

Houndentenor April 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Using Miller’s logic, all lbgt Republicans should now be for Obama since he repealed DADT. But no. Democrats have to be 100% for gay rights or they are attacked. Republicans can throw us the tiniest of scraps and that’s cause for a parade. It’s the same old bs.

Tom Scharbach April 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm

The campaign and Grenell are dealing with a backlash from left and right. You’d expect it from the right, but the behavior of “progressives” in trying to block the appointment of an openly gay, pro-gay-equality voice reveals the shamelessness of the partisan LGBT left.

The right is attacking Grenell because he’s gay. The left is attacking Grenell because of his political positions and his tendency to fire off idiotic Tweets (which the Romney campaign apparently told him to deep six) and quotes.

I’ve said it before but it remains sadly true: their worst nightmare is that the GOP should become less anti-gay and challenge the one true party for gay dollars and votes.

I don’t think your conclusion follows from the evidence. The meme is getting old.

TomJeffersonIII April 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

OK, As I understand it, campaign staff are hired or fired at the discretion of the candidate. So, if Mitt wants to appoint Grenell to his election team, that is his business. That is actually not really too interesting for me, one way or the other.

What is interesting is whether or not this actually means anything at all. Hiring (or is he a volunteer) Grenell is being taken by gay Republicans as a positive nod in their direction, but Mitt still has not really said much policy in favor of gay rights and what applicable statements he has said are not really that comforting.
(beyond the…rumors that Grenell or someone was revising Wikipedia so as to remove references to his sexual orientation).
I also have no idea if his foreign policy ‘advice’ is actually any good or not.

So, I am not saying it is a bad thing — that the GOP presidential frontrunner hired an openly gay man for his campaign staff — but unless it comes with policy advances on gay rights issues, then I am not sure how giddy I can get.

Today, serious people running for a major public office in this country (as the nominee of a major party) are probably not going to endorse legalization of same-sex marriage.

That is less of a statement against either major party, and more a reality of voter sentiment in districts and State races. Yes, the GOP is only to happy to use homophobia to get votes, but voter sentiment in a given district or State is going to influenced a serious candidate for public office.

Tom Scharbach April 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Today, serious people running for a major public office in this country (as the nominee of a major party) are probably not going to endorse legalization of same-sex marriage.

That’s simply not true.

In Wisconsin, for example, both leading Democratic candidates for Governor, our Democratic candidate for Senator, and many other serious candidates for major office publicly support marriage equality.

What’s true in Wisconsin is true in quite a number of other states as well — quite a number of Democratic statewide officeholders, as well as Democratic candidates for statewide office, openly support marriage equality. Check out the list of politicians pushing on the DNC to include marriage equality in the national platform, if you want to see a few of them. In addition to candidates and elected officials, you’ll see a significant number of state Democratic platforms call for marriage equality this year, as well. That’s a change from even four years ago, and certainly a change from eight years ago.

On a national level, its still different, of course.

I doubt that President Obama will come out of his political closet and support marriage equality this election cycle. I’d like to see him do it (it is time for him, as Elizabeth Warren famously remarked, to “evolve already …”) but I don’t expect it to happen.

I’d like to see the DNC platform endorse marriage equality, too, but despite pressure to make it happen, I’d be surprised. My guess is that the platform will echo President Obama’s statements in North Carolina and Minnesota,”oppose divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples”, and call for ending DOMA and federal non-recognition of state marriages, rather than just coming out and doing the right thing. I’m not giving up — I’m part of a grassroots movement in Wisconsin to raise the issue in our party delegate selection caucuses this weekend — but I’m not hopeful unless President Obama gets his butt off the chair. We’ll see how it works out, I guess.

But I’m willing to bet that President Obama will be the last Democratic nominee for President who does not openly support marriage equality, and that the 2012 Democratic platform will be the last platform that hedges on the issue.

So, I am not saying it is a bad thing — that the GOP presidential frontrunner hired an openly gay man for his campaign staff — but unless it comes with policy advances on gay rights issues, then I am not sure how giddy I can get.

I wouldn’t waste a giggle on it, let alone a giddy. President-Presumptive Romney’s positions on LGBT issues are known. I’d be surprised if he changes any of them. He has nothing at all to gain by doing so.

Jorge April 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

I think I will go one further, for there is some slight merit to Stephen Miller’s argument.

What “progressives” are saying about Grennell (“he’s a John Bolten-syncophant jerk”) is fair game (famous last words). And it has the effect of distracting, not from Grennell’s homosexuality, but Romney’s nonjudgmentalness on homosexuality, a trait he shares with George W. Bush. Romney also shares Bush’s support of the federal marriage amendment. Unlike Bush, Romney has actually said recently that he’s pro-gay rights.

The reason it is not in the best interests of gay progressives for Mitt Romney and the right to moderate their language and intentions with regard to homosexuals is because of the strong possibility that they will take the country with them toward the left (a good thing)–and stop well short of the left (a bad thing for gay rights). The equilibrium could become one in which gays are socially accepted but we do not achieve major social policy goals, like gay marriage. Such an equilibrium might become very stable, for the progressives are fueled by anti-gay hatred and bigotry.

TomJeffersonIII May 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm

1. Thinks are certainly changing in terms of federal/statewide [major party] candidates being able to support marriage equality and still have a realistic chance of winning, but (in Federal elections) certain States or Congressional districts are seen (by both major parties) as having a large number of voters who oppose marriage equality, which is why Republicans know that they can still stir up fear about the issue and why Democrats with more conservative constituencies are a bit leery of being painted, by the right, as pro-gay marriage.

2. President Obama has basically come out in favor of something like civil unions or domestic partnerships and he has a made some good strides in that direction, but (largely) right-wing GOP leadership and the (in some cases) conservative Democrats are going make it hard to get bills passed.

3. Mitt — from what I heard — wanted to be all for gay rights when he was running against Ted Kennedy. I think he said something like he was more liberal then Ted was on the issue. Then, he had a change of heart (around the time that he wanted to be a serious candidate in the GOP presidential primary).

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