A prominent conservative gay advocacy group offered Republican challenger Mitt Romney a "qualified endorsement" on Tuesday, releasing a statement titled "We are Americans first."
The Log Cabin Republicans offered their endorsement of Romney for the presidency, though they acknowledged that their group would not have offered their support to just any Republican candidate. Further, they specified that Romney would not get the brunt of their support.
"Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann. Otherwise, our decision would have been different," the group said in a statement released on its website. "The qualified nature of this endorsement means that Log Cabin Republicans will be most active in our support for House and Senate candidates."
Romney, in contrast to President Barack Obama, does not support same sex marriage. His website reports that as president he would appoint an attorney general that would defend the Defense of Marriage Act and that he would champion a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
"If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice," the Log Cabin Republican statement read. "However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities. Having closely reviewed the candidate's history and observed the campaign, we believe Governor Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans."
The Associated Press reports that another LGBT rights group, Stonewall Democrats, backs Obama and took offense to the Log Cabin endorsement.
"This is politics at its worst — when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals," Jerame Davis, the group's executive director, said.
The late-in-the-game endorsement reflects tension among the conservative gay community. Those conservatives who identify as gay and often agree with Republican political ideology on non-LGBT issues find themselves at odds with the party mainstream on the issue of gay marriage. Some, like GOProud which endorsed Romney in June, are enthusiastic about the former governor's candidacy. GOProud was the first national gay organization to endorse Romney for the presidency.
When GOProud endorsed Romney in June, the group's executive director Jimmy LaSalvia said that the nation didn't need a president focused on social issues.
"President Obama and his friends on the left want this election to be about divisive social issues, because the President's record on jobs and the economy is indefensible," LaSalvia said in a GOProud press release. "At this critical juncture, we need a President with the experience and expertise to turn this economy around. Someone who knows how the free markets work – former Governor Mitt Romney is that candidate."
The Log Cabin Republicans also addressed in the conclusion to their lengthy statement the apparent disconnect in supporting a candidate who supports upholding traditional marriage, saying in essence that what is best for the nation is best for people of all sexual orientation.
"There has been discussion about whether we, as members of Log Cabin Republicans, are LGBT first or Republican first," the Log Cabin Republican statement said. "Ultimately, we believe the answer is neither. We are Americans first, and as such, must stand for what we believe is right for our country.
"Our endorsement of Mitt Romney is not free. We commit, here and now, that we will work with the party as we are able, and challenge the party as it is necessary, to ensure that it lives up to its highest ideals of limited government and individual freedom. The Log Cabin Republicans motto is "inclusion wins." If LGBT Americans are serious about winning equality for all, rather than merely playing politics, Republicans must be part of the team."
The LCR is a 30-year old gay advocacy organization that believes in conservative principles and agrees with much of the Republican Party platform, while disagreeing on key issues effecting LGBT citizens. The Log Cabin Republican motto is "inclusion wins" and the group claims to be dedicated to using its pro-equality positions to enhance the party.
Andrea Saul, a Romney campaign spokesperson, told the Washington Blade that the candidate was happy to have the group's support.
"Gov. Romney is pleased to have the support of the Log Cabin Republicans and looks forward to working together for the future of our country," Saul said.