(Interview) Log Cabin Republicans: Obama's Playing Politics With LGBT Families

BlogHer Original Post

Just moments after President Barack Obama made the Twittersphere explode over his announcement in support of marriage equality on ABC, the three-decade-old Log Cabin Republicans sent out this tweet:

 

The LCR then released a correspondingly less-than-pleased statement calling the announcement a "cold comfort to LGBT Americans."

“That the president has chosen today, when LGBT Americans are mourning the passage of Amendment One, to finally speak up for marriage equality is offensive and callous,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director.

I talked on the phone shortly thereafter with LCR Deputy Executive Director Christian Berle. My takeaway from our conversation: Obama's trying to recapture that old 2008 magic.

Obama Robin Roberts gay marriage
May 9, 2012 - Washington, District of Columbia, U.S. - President BARACK OBAMA participates in an interview with ROBIN ROBERTS of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Credit Image: © Pete Souza/The White House/ZUMAPRESS.com)

"It seems that he's ginning up enthusiasm in the younger voting brackets with that younger base that he seems to be losing ground with compared to 2008," Berle said, noting that Republicans should also be courting younger, LGBT-friendly voters. (Former GOP presidential hopeful) Governor Huntsman talked about why Americans need to do more for the LGBT community; it's moving in a better direction."

However, Berle admitted the GOP's not moving in that direction fast enough for the LCR -- and certainly not with the current presumptive presidential nominee, former Gov. Mitt Romney, with whom the LCR's met with to discuss some points of contention.

"I hope to see Governor Romney return to some of his prior positions as supporting LGBT equal employment protection," Berle said.

Unsurprisingly, women remain a tough voting block for Romney to crack.

"In watching polling, the gender gap continues to dog Romney," Berle said. "One of his hurdles is his open hostility to the LGBT community, and women don't respond well to that because they view that as possibly seeing their child.

"If he can't close the gender gap, he won't see the inside of the White House."

The Log Cabin Republicans have not endorsed the Romney campaign at this time. That decision will likely be made by the LCR Board of Directors around the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Politically speaking, the announcement seems more risky than beneficial for Obama.

One in three Southern swing voters strongly oppose gay marriage, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, putting states like North Carolina and Virginia on shaky ground. Culturally, the move could also put him at odds with minorities, particularly Hispanics.

With 30 states now on the books as opposing gay marriage, it's pretty clear where most of the country's likely voters fall on the issue.

In Romney's favor, the very groups that alienate marriage equality advocates, such as evangelicals, continue to be powerful GOP voting blocks from the "moral majority" hold-over days. Also, Romney's fellow Mormons donated in large part to the California Proposition 8 gay marriage ban.

President Obama clearly advocated for the issue to remain at the state level, meaning he's supportive of the issue, but will likely not interfere.

It's a move that will gain ground with those already on his side, but perhaps do a little damage with those culturally or religiously opposed to marriage equality.

Recent polling shows challenger Romney's in a virtual dead heat with the once-wildly popular president nationally, as well as in nine battleground states.

His declaration won't likely cause too much swing among millennials and minorities, but combine such moves with the anemic economy and a failed healthcare reform law, and it might cause that dissipating white, working-class Democratic vote to bail come Election Day.

Ruy Teixeira, a joint fellow with the Center for American Progress, agrees:

 

“A real wild card is how many of them are going to show up. He can win with 75 percent; if he gets 80, that doesn’t make him bulletproof,” but it does make him “a slight favorite, but he certainly could lose.”

 

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Erica Holloway is a BlogHer contributing editor and principal of Galvanized Strategies, a San Diego-based public relations firm. Contact her at erica (at) galvanizedstrategies (dot) com or follow her @erica_holloway.

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