Donors At Odds With Romney Over Marriage Equality

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Sunday Apr 15, 2012

Presidential GOP candidate Mitt Romney has ruffled the feathers of some of his biggest donors due to his stance on same-sex marriage, Politico reported.

Three hedge fund managers, Paul Singer, Dan Loeb and Cliff Asness, have all supported the cause to legalize gay marriage in New York last year. Singer alone has reportedly donated $8 million to pro-gay marriage efforts since 2007 but has given Romney more than $1 million for his campaign.

But ever since the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a Christian group that strongly opposes same-sex marriage, announced that it was endorsing the former governor of Massachusetts this week (only hours after Rick Santorum suspended his campaign,) the major donors have been a bit anxious.

Gay rights organizations are also concerned about NOM's endorsement, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"Certainly Mitt Romney aligning himself with the National Organization for Marriage puts him starkly on the fringe of this issue," HRC's spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said. "NOM is one of the leading anti-gay voices in the country, and really represents a small minority of opinion on the issue," he said. "It shows how far out of step Romney actually is - not only is he opposed to the majority of Americans, now it appears he is opposed to part of his base."

One Republican insider told Politico that donors are "often a reflection of where the public attitudes are," and as the website points out, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll from last month, 52 percent of voters supported gay marriage, while 43 percent did not.

Politico notes that Romney "may try to subtly moderate some of the more conservative stands he has taken over the years in order to make himself more palatable to GOP primary voters." Language may be one of the key issues Romney works on. During the New Hampshire primary in January, his rhetoric was "less heated" even though he opposes marriage equality.

"To say that marriage is something other than the relationship between a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake," Romney said. "And, the reason for that is not that we want to discriminate against people or to suggest that gay couples are not just as loving and can't also raise children well. But, it is instead a recognition that, for society as a whole, that the nation presumably will be better off if children are raised in a setting where there is a male and a female."

But R. Clarke Cooper, the executive director of the conservative gay organization Log Cabin Republicans, told the website that Romney's views on marriage equality were distracting and that he should focus on economic issues.

"After his [CPAC] speech I said to Gov. Romney, because he had a very strong speech about economic growth, creation of jobs, rebuilding the American dream - all things that resonate with not just conservatives, but any Americans frankly, which those were attractive issues for any election campaign," said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "However I did say to him, your comments regarding marriage are not only not helpful but can be distracting from the campaign."

But NOM said there would be a negative impact if the presidential candidate changes his views on marriage equality, Politico notes.

"Romney is well aware of the disastrous, long-lasting impact on the Republican Party that occurs when Republican presidents break pledges," said conservative strategist Keith Appell, who represents NOM. "Conservatives will take him at his word with regard to the pledges he has made, be it repealing Obamacare or preserving and protecting marriage between one man and one woman."


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