Queer Guy for the Straight Ire: Did Romney do the right thing?
In a statement provided to The Washington Post, Grenell, who is openly gay, said: “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.” He added: “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.”
So Grenell says he resigned. Mitt Romeny appears to support him. The ones going nuts over this and taking a victory lap some of the social conservatives like Bryan Fischers who was in the Jon Stewart skit. According to the WaPo:
Matthew J. Franck, director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute, called Grenell a “loose cannon” with a passion for the “gay agenda.”
“My problem is that by his own description he is an ardent activist for same-sex marriage who went to go work for a candidate who wants to defeat same-sex marriage. It doesn’t look good to the people that Romney needs support from to have an advocate for same-sex marriage in such a high-profile position,” Franck said. “The Romney campaign needs to be unequivocally opposed to same-sex marriage and to appear to be. The campaign has remedied a problem that was bound to get worse.”
The Romney team maintains that it was Grenell’s decision to leave his post.
“We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,” campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”
Can a presidential candidate afford to let people think that the social conservatives are dictating this exclusion to him? I say no. Now I can see Team Romney (or Team Obama) not wanting an aide prancing around the office in chaps. You want anyone working on your team to behave and present professionally. However, gay marriage is perfectly legal in some states and this issue is what Grenell has been accused of supporting.
If Romney wants to appeal to the moderates and Independents, then acceptance of gays is going to have to be on his agenda and I don’t mean gays he keeps in the closet. He will have a hard time. His religion, like many religions, is inhospitable to homosexuality. His party doesn’t have a great track record on acceptance of gays. This is where Romney can distinguish himself and I hope he will. Not only must he be willing to accept gays on his staff but he must also send a strong message to social conservatives that he isn’t going to be dictated to. He needs to return to the big tent image of the GOP, that big tent where Romney actually got his start.