(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Earlier this week the Log Cabins Republicans formally endorsed Gov. Mitt Romney's candidacy for president, becoming the second conservative group advocating for gay rights to offer a formal blessing. However, the endorsement may have come with a price according to some insiders who say an agreement was discussed for a gender discrimination bill.
Although the Log Cabin Republicans traditionally support Republican Party principles – especially those involving fiscal matters – they have not offered a blanket endorsement for GOP presidential candidates who have not supported their position for gay rights.
For example, they refused to endorse President Bush in 2004 because his administration was pushing a federal marriage amendment.
A meeting between the Log Cabin Republicans and Romney reportedly took place Oct. 17 at Greenwood Farm in Leesburg, Va. The primary topic of conversation was not the federal marriage amendment, but workplace non-discrimination protections that now seem to be a priority of pro-gay organizations.
"I can say with confidence that the Romney administration would work on desirable outcomes for workplace non-discrimination," Log Cabins' R. Clarke Cooper told the Washington Blade, a gay website. "I'm going to leave it broad like that because I think there's room for administrative action as well as legislative. I also think it's probably fair to say that legislation in a form of an ENDA or an ENDA-like legislation is certainly realistic."
Similar to Obama's position on gay marriage that "evolved" over the years, so has Romney's, but in the opposite direction. In 1994 while campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, Romney said he supported gay marriage and a law barring discrimination of gays, but as a presidential candidate, he now says he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman.
He has yet to address what is known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act during the current campaign.
But according to Cooper and others, there could be room for compromise or a deal in a Romney White House. He confirmed his confidence in Romney to The Nation's Ben Adler on Tuesday. "Based on our work with the campaign and Gov. Romney, I'm confident [that he will support anti-discrimination legislation].
Cooper went on to say that Romney listened to their ideas, and did not voice any objection to discrimination based on gender identity.
Additionally, Cooper said the Virginia meeting had been a work in progress. Months ago another Log Cabin employee told The Christian Post that high level meetings had been ongoing between the Romney camp, the Republican National Committee and Log Cabins representatives, although the two latter groups would not confirm any such meetings had taken place.
It was also reported that Romney said he would not overturn or support several laws such as the "Don't Ask, Don' Tell" repeal or hospital visitation rights for couples, which the Obama administration has put into place as a condition of hospitals receiving Medicare funds. And according to Cooper, Romney indicated he would not advocate a federal marriage amendment.
"There's not going to be a retreat by President Romney on repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Cooper said. "There's not going to be a retreat on hospital visitation. We were very, very clear not only to Gov. Romney, but to the campaign staff that were working to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. That was part of our legislative portfolio. They clearly understood that."
A leading evangelical leader who had asked not to be identified, told The Christian Post on Thursday that he felt a Romney presidency would take a pro-life position on abortion but may disappoint conservatives on the marriage front.
"I wouldn't hold my breath that he will fight for traditional marriage," he said. "But we'll see."