Ah man. This is disappointing. I thought we might be past all this by now.
From Jennifer Rubin, conservative blogger at The Washington Post and generally a stalwart defender of Mitt Romney:
“Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman recently hired to sharpen the foreign policy message of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has resigned in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.
In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:
“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.”
For examples of the criticism leveled at Romney by fellow conservatives for the Grenell hire, see Bryan Fischer at the American Family Association, Matthew J. Franck at National Review and the Family Research Council.
Grenell was not without controversy for reasons that extend beyond sexual orientation. Upon being hired by Romney, he had to go through his Twitter account and eliminate some pretty impolitic remarks made about various political figures, from Newt Gingrich to Hillary Clinton. It’s also important to note that members of Romney’s team reportedly urged Grenell to stay on board rather than resign.
But as Rubin describes it, “Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.” The campaign was acting as though Grenell had become too hot to be allowed to do his job, so he left.
The incident recalls the example of Ken Mehlman, a gay Republican who served as George Bush’s 2004 campaign manager and as head of the Republican National Committee but who felt compelled to remain in the closet until 2010, when he left politics as a profession.
“The process of not being able to say who I am in public life was very difficult,” Mehlman said. “No one else knew this except me. My family didn’t know. My friends didn’t know. Anyone who watched me knew I was a guy who was clearly uncomfortable with the topic.”
It’s also worth noting that social conservative groups and several prominent conservative politicians refused to participate in the annual CPAC meeting in Washington in 2011 because GOProud, a gay conservative group, was allowed to become one of many co-sponsors of the event.
In 2012, after GOProud was publicly disinvited, the boycott ended and the groups returned.
– Jay Bookman