Republicans mull gay marriage opposition

2012-05-11 10:01

Washington - US President Barack Obama's sudden public endorsement of same-sex marriage caught Republicans off guard, but the party seeking to win back the White House must now decide whether to make gay rights a crucial campaign issue.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee who is already locked in a fierce campaign battle with Obama ahead of the 6 November election, quickly and expectedly reiterated his opposition to gay marriage.

He doubled down on Thursday, telling Fox News that "my preference is to have a national standard for marriage and that marriage be defined as being [between] a man and a woman".

States, he said, should be allowed "to determine what rights would be provided for people of the same gender that wanted to have a relationship".

But while Romney and House Speaker John Boehner both said the campaign should be about the economy and jobs, some party luminaries say the race has a new wedge issue, and blasted out e-mails calling for donations to help fight for traditional marriage.

"This is going to be a defining issue this election," Republican Mike Huckabee, a 2008 presidential candidate who holds considerable sway with religious conservatives, said in an e-mail pitch.

'Tragic day for America'

"Obama... and the Democrats have been a complete failure on economic issues so now they are going to focus on issues that will rile up their base," he added. "Well, Mr President, it's going to rile up our folks also."

Romney's onetime rival Rick Santorum, who bowed out of the presidential race last month and now backs Romney, called Obama's endorsement "a tragic day for America" and for supporters of conservative values.

"While we were always suspicious of his sincerity on this issue, his public proclamation that he now opposes preserving marriage as one man and one woman - the very building block of our society - means the charade is now over and our fight begins in earnest."

Romney found himself on the back foot on gay rights on Thursday, apologising over high school pranks on potentially gay classmates that he admitted "may have gone too far".

"Back in high school, you know, I did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, why, obviously I apologise," Romney told Fox News Radio hours after The Washington Post published an explosive profile of the candidate during his teen years.

According to the Post, which interviewed and quoted several classmates at the elite Cranbrook School in Michigan, Romney led a group of friends who held down a fellow student they presumed was gay while Romney cut the boy's hair.

Alienating groups

Romney told Fox television he had no idea about the classmates' sexual orientation, adding, "I don't recall the incident but I am seeing the reports and I will not argue with that."

The Republican National Committee was portraying Obama's announcement as fraught with risk, as he could alienate some African-American religious groups and Hispanics who have broadly supported Obama but who are opposed to gay marriage.

"I think this is going to open an avenue for a lot of people who haven't made up their minds yet in the Hispanic community," said Jose Fuentes, co-chair of Romney's Latino steering committee.

"If one thing is clear, it's that the Hispanic community is against gay marriage."

A Gallup poll from last week shows 50% of Americans are in support of legal gay marriage and 48% opposed, although the trend is toward increasing tolerance.

But Obama's announcement may not play well in some battleground states where the 2012 election will be decided.

Bump in support

Swing states Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Nevada have all banned gay marriage in the last decade through referendum. Voters in North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment banning the practice on Tuesday.

Several Republican senators said they were not sure whether gay marriage should play a role in the campaign.

"It might make a difference, but only from the standpoint of how people feel personally about the president as opposed to whether or not there's going to be any public policy connected with it," Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said.

Obama is no doubt enjoying a bump in support after his endorsement, and he revelled in the approval on Thursday night in Los Angeles, where he touched down for a star-studded fundraising gala hosted by Oscar-winner George Clooney that was expected to rake in about $15m for the campaign.

  • Jason - 2012-05-11 11:40

    Mitt Romney is a serious idiot... and considering his support I would think that many Americans are just as bad!

      Unknown - 2012-05-11 11:47

      Agreed. There was quite a funny joke saying Obama does not even have to rally before the next elections rather just let his opponents talk and that will be more than enough motivation to elect Obama for a second term.

      Squeegee - 2012-05-11 11:50

      On what grounds is he an idiot? He is a highly successful businessman etc..

      The-third - 2012-05-11 12:12

      Squeegee.. have you actually watched the republican nomination battle? Have you read anything Romney's said over the last few months? Go do a bit of research and then debate the issue. Being good at business, by the way, does not necessarily make you clever in the political/humane sense.

      stuart.steedman - 2012-05-11 12:17

      Wealth is not an indicator of intelligence @Squeegee. I've seen people in power who are complete morons. Take a look at the ANC, for example.

      Andrew - 2012-05-11 18:40

      American style Christianity is so wrong!!!! Obama is doing his best to enlighten Americans to the true gospel that Jesus taught. Th e gospel of inclusion, acceptance, love and compassion. The hell-fire and brimstone gospel of the past must evolve and emerge with the true consciousness of these post-modern times!!

  • stuart.steedman - 2012-05-11 12:13

    Ah geez, all it takes is right-wing religious nutjobs to ruin it for humanity. Okay, Christians on this board, answer me this: Which one of the following is a greater risk to the institute of marriage: 1) Two people who have genuinely loved each other for 10 years, do no harm to others, are upstanding citizens and just want to contribute positively to society, and just happen to be of the same gender, wanting finally to get the State to recognize their union OR 2) Celebrity marriages that last days at most, to cash in on popularity (Kardashians or Britney anyone?), and have nothing to do with love or devotion. One is illegal in most US states, the other is pretty much legal around the world.

      robert.cerff - 2012-05-11 12:34

      Redneck USA... where you can marry your cousin, as long as they are of a different gender.

  • robert.cerff - 2012-05-11 12:33

    America, land of the free, well as long as you prescribe to the average moron mentality...

  • brionyl.french - 2012-05-11 12:53

    Mitt Rooney is a clown... If the Americans vote this idiot in then i really dont know what is happening to the world. This is the same man that thinks women secreate something to stop them from falling pregnant after rape, He should come here and see how many kids are abandoned because they are products of rape and the mothers cant bare to be reminded of their ordeals... Gosh people are getting stupider and stupider!!!

  • Johan - 2012-05-11 13:38

    It is so insane to make homosexuality part of an election agenda! Can't they focus on their economy, immigration and terrorism/wars etc. There are many more issues than morality. Why do people worry so much about the gays out there! America is really one conservative place, except for the big cities. And their polititians, are the biggest spindoctors on earth!

      fishycraig - 2012-05-11 15:16

      Because Obama doesn't want the limelight on the economy. If so he would lose the election - regardless of whether people think it is a legacy of Bush or not. It is the man in the office at the moment that takes the heat. Better for Obama to focus on soft issues.

  • Ken - 2012-05-11 14:01

    Does nobody believe the Bible anymore?....God said a marriage is between a man and a woman,not between Adam and Steve.Why is 75% of the world against Gods word,is God wrong and people correct?...I will rather die than not believe the word of God....These politians are really arrogant to use the concept of guyness to win votes.

      WessBergg - 2012-05-11 14:25

      The word of your God? Who says? What about the other Gods out there? Or the books that never made it to the Bible? Do you also not eat pork and believe your daughter should be stoned if she has sex before she is married? Maybe enjoyed a bit of lobster or shrimp lately? Desire a new car or think your neighbors wife is pretty? Please, stop throwing the Bible at me and then maybe I'll stop throwing its inaccuracies and double meanings at you..... Blechhhh

      IMHO - 2012-05-11 14:25

      @ken can you please explain to me if you understand the below two concepts: 1) you have every right to believe as you wish, and decide for yourself whether same-sex marriage is moral. 2)you have no right whatsoever to impose your decision in point 1 (above) on anyone else.

      Phoenix - 2012-05-12 00:51

      People got married loooong before your God or Bible. Marriage is not the exclusive property of religion.

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-05-11 17:04

    Obama for a second term, the Republicans are so out of date they are bad news for the entire world.

  • jmlongwe - 2012-05-11 21:49

    Republicans are like the ANC, once they lose power it will be difficult to attain it again as they screw up so much. This Mitt Romney reminds me of Bush and we all know what a screw up he was. Obama will win because Americans cant stand another Bush character.

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