While some columnists like to believe that it is only people on the “far fringes of the evangelical right” who oppose the Romney campaign’s hiring of an openly gay staffer, now two major Religious Right figures have joined the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer in denouncing openly gay foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell’s employment in the Romney campaign.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in his Washington Update stated that “there is strong evidence that Grenell would lobby” in favor of the pro-LGBT rights stance of President Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While Romney himself is an opponent of LGBT equality, Perkins said that Grenell’s hiring is troubling for conservatives:
Most conservatives have been anxious to see how the Romney campaign would react now that the strongest social conservative, Sen. Rick Santorum, is out of the race. Would the Governor try to fill the void left on values issues or would he stick to his more moderate approach? Some people believe that question was answered last week with the selection of Richard Grenell as Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman. Grenell, who served in President Bush’s administration, specialized in the U.N., but the areas where he disagreed with his old boss are what concern conservatives most.
Grenell, who has been very open about his homosexual lifestyle, publicly condemned the Bush administration (shortly after leaving it) for opposing a U.N. resolution urging the full acceptance of homosexuality. While Bush (like nearly two thirds of the U.N. member states) refused to endorse the measure endorsing homosexuality, President Obama signed it shortly after taking office. Since then, his State Department, under the direction of Hillary Clinton, has tossed aside the cultural and religious beliefs of other countries to promote homosexuality as a basic human right, while downgrading the importance of religious liberty. Clearly, the strategy is for the State Department to force these policies (which most U.S. states reject) on the international stage and then build pressure on the U.S. to adopt measures like Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and same-sex “marriage.”
In a recent column for the Washington Blade, Grenell hinted at where he falls on the marriage issue when he criticized gay and lesbian Democrats for supporting President Obama despite the fact that he hasn’t done enough to redefine marriage. Still others point to Grenell’s long-time partner and his desire to tie the knot, “It’s not an option for us… but hopefully someday soon it will be.” While past performance is not a guarantee of future results, there is strong evidence that Grenell would lobby for foreign policy more in line with the current administration than the last Republican one.
Gary Bauer, in his daily email to Campaign for Working Families members, called the hire an “unforced error” and a “disappointment.” Bauer said he is not upset that Grenell is gay but is angry that he wants to marry his longtime partner, claiming that it would only be acceptable if Grenell would oppose his own right to marry:
Unforced Error, Governor
While Governor Mitt Romney is clearly enjoying a bounce in the polls and a boost in momentum, his campaign still has some work to do when it comes to reassuring the conservative base and values voters. That’s why his appointment of Richard Grenell, who worked in the Bush Administration, to be his spokesman on national security issues was a disappointment to many conservatives.
I share their disappointment not because Grenell is gay. He is not weak on defense. In fact, former Ambassador John Bolton is defending Grenell today. Conservative pro-family leaders are disappointed because Grenell has been an outspoken advocate of redefining normal marriage. For the overwhelmingly majority of folks who support Governor Romney that issue is starkly clear — marriage is the union of one and one woman. But Grenell once caused a controversy by trying to have his partner listed as his spouse when he worked at the U.N.
Thankfully, Grenell is not going to be making policy on domestic issues. But his appointment was disappointing because it comes at a time when the Romney campaign should be reaching out to the conservative base. Instead, this appointment seems like a slap at the base.
Moreover, Grenell is known for having an acerbic personality, and critics have described his comments in social media as being “catty.” He may be competent, but he is creating controversies on multiple fronts where the Romney campaign can least afford them.
That said, we should not exaggerate this. Homosexuals were part of the Reagan Administration and the Bush Administrations. Our concern is policy. One of the ways Governor Romney can reassure values voters is to make more statements in his speeches that speak to their concerns about the sanctity of life, the meaning of marriage and the importance of faith and family.
Pointing this out does not hurt Mitt Romney. I am making this observation precisely because it is so important that he defeat Barack Obama. There is no path to victory for a Republican presidential candidate that does not involve massive turnout by pro-family voters. The only way Mitt Romney will end up with a majority on Election Day — and I will do everything I can to make sure that happens — is to unite economic, defense and social conservatives behind his candidacy.