By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–
The Republican Party’s presidential nominee Mitt Romney received a rousing reception, making his way through a spirited crowd on the convention floor, approaching the podium to address delegates in the Tampa Convention Center.
Last night’s choreography evoked images of the president walking through the aisles of Congress before delivering a State of the Union address. After all, Romney’s remarks to GOP Convention delegates were the most important speech in his political career.
And part of the evening’s up-close and personal biographical story line was to make him appear utterly presidential.
But Romney’s everyman (and women) appeal for a better tomorrow, both inside and outside the convention hall, stopped dead in the water for LGBT Americans.
“Mr. Chairman, delegates. I accept your nomination for President of the United States of America,” he said, wasting no time in getting to the point.
“Tonight I am asking you to join me to walk together to a better future,” said Romney, sporting a bold red tie with thin blue stripes.
For nearly 40 minutes, in prime time national television, the GOP nominee served up Ronald Reagan, “morning-in-America” style optimism.
“We Americans have always felt a special kinship with the future,” said Romney.
He spoke of Mormon faith and family, business and jobs, foreign affairs and the environment, freedom and opportunity, immigration and workforce diversity. Romney’s appeal was to the GOP partisans and Tea Party adherents gathered in Florida, as well undecided and independent voters nationwide. Women and Hispanics were especially singled out for inclusion.
And in playing up traditional marriage and family life, Romney said, “My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all – the gift of unconditional love. They cared deeply about who we would be, and much less about what we would do.
“Unconditional love is a gift that Ann and I have tried to pass on to our sons and now to our grandchildren. All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers. If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family – and God’s love — this world would be a far more gentle and better place.
“Mom and Dad were married 64 years. And if you wondered what their secret was, you could have asked the local florist – because every day Dad gave Mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table. That’s how she found out what happened on the day my father died – she went looking for him because that morning, there was no rose.”
Obama is wrong, the Republicans are right
Touching the raw nerve of voter dissatisfaction and unsteady economic recovery, Romney made his case for pink slipping the president.
Blunt but not snarky, Romney put it this way: “For too many Americans, these good days are harder to come by. How many days have you woken up feeling that something really special was happening in America?”
Continuing, he said, “Many of you felt that way on Election Day four years ago. Hope and Change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I’d ask a simple question: ‘If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?’ You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him.”
For Romney, “The President has disappointed America because he hasn’t led America in the right direction. He took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.”
The president just doesn’t get it, according to Romney. The name of the game is the free enterprise system, job creation, lower taxes, and less government.
“That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: ‘You are better off today than you were four years ago,’” Romney said. “Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.”
It was a good speech, not a great speech, any number of TV commenters and political pundits said.
No Marriage Equality, Yes to freedom of religion
Still, many LGBT listeners would find cold comfort from what a Romney-Ryan administration has to offer.
For instance, “As president, I will protect the sanctity of life,” he told delegates. “I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.”
If there were any dissonance between the family value of unconditional love and less than full equality for LGBT Americans, it seemed lost on Romney.
But the party platform leaves little doubt. While embracing the “principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity,” the GOP decries “an activist judiciary” and blames it for “court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several states,” which the Republican document calls “an assault on the foundation of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children of cultural values.”
Ann Romney defines “real marriage”
For her part, Ann Romney seemed to stick it same-sex couples.
“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a ‘storybook marriage.’ Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer,” she told delegates on Tuesday evening.
“A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage,” Ann explained.
No mention of polygamy
Oddly enough, Romney made no mention of his non-traditional, polygamous family ties. That would be Miles Park Romney, Mitt’s great-grandfather, a devout Mormon, who had five wives while living in polygamous colony in Mexico, according to Boston Globe reporters and authors, Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, in their recent book The Real Romney.
Hit to Log Cabin Republicans
Even Log Cabin Republicans felt the sting of exclusion and derision with the gay exception to apple pie and the American dream for all.
“The obsessive exclusion of gay couples, including military and families, from the rights and responsibilities of marriage, combined with bizarre rhetoric about ‘hate campaigns’ and ‘the homosexual rights agenda’ are clear signs of desperation among social conservatives who know that public opinion is rapidly turning in favor of equality,” stated R. Clarke Cooper, executive director for Log Cabin Republicans.
Attempts to reach Log Cabin Republican and GOProud leadership for post-speech comments were unsuccessful, although GOProud had endorsed Romney before the convention.
Democrats chime in: LGBTs not welcome
But Jerame Davis of National Stonewall Democrats (NSD) offered a partisan perspective.
“Mitt Romney’s speech last night capped a bizarre and meandering GOP convention filled with shallow references to ‘defending’ or honoring’ marriage. What didn’t make the primetime schedule is the news that this Romney/Ryan ticket represents the most reactionary anti-LGBT platform in politics. Even ever-loyal gay Republicans had to admit defeat in their attempts to moderate the GOP at this year’s convention,” said Davis in e-mail correspondence.
Continuing, “While Log Cabin Republicans were bragging about their inclusion in the platform drafting process, the GOP was undercutting their work and their message by commissioning the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins to draft the platform’s anti-LGBT language. There could be no more clear message that LGBT people, whether they are loyal Republican operatives or average voters, are simply not welcome in the Republican Party,” Davis said.
It was not Clint “make my day” time
Meanwhile, back on the convention floor, other bizarre —weird or off-kilter — rhetoric took center stage when Hollywood star Clint Eastwood, aka Dirty Harry, engaged in an imaginary dialogue with an invisible president.
Speaking to an empty chair, make-my-day Eastwood, 82, took Obama to task.
“Mr. President, how do you handle the promises that you made when you were running for election?”
Thousands of stunned “OMG” tweets ensued.
Continuing, Eastwood pressed the invisible Obama why he had not closed the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“What do you mean, shut up?” Eastwood mumbled.
“What do you want me to tell Mr. Romney?” he asked, with an uncomfortable audience, including ill-at-ease Ann Romney, looking on.
“I can’t tell him that. He can’t do that to himself,” Eastwood said. “You’re getting as bad as Biden.”
The religious prayers
And yet, after the red, white, and blue balloon and confetti drop, it got worse — not better for gays — when the cardinal archbishop of New York City, the Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, offered a closing prayer.
“May we know the truth of your creation, respecting the laws of nature and nature’s God and not seek to replace it with idols of our own making,” prayed Dolan, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Give us the good sense not to cast aside the boundaries of righteous living you first inscribed on our hearts even before inscribing them on tablets of stone. May you mend our every flaw, confirming our soul in self-control, our liberty in law,” Dolan said.
Catholics for Marriage Equality
But the subtlety of an apparently freaks-of-nature, gays-for-same-sex marriage-are-idolaters theology was not lost on Charles Martel, president of the advocacy group Catholics for Marriage Equality.
Gay Catholics hear this all the time, Martel said, natural law theory used as an argument to “justify denial of civil marriage rights and benefits to same-sex couples.”
“The reality is that gay people, too, are part of God’s nature, and therefore we are a part of the laws of nature. We need to remind Cardinal Dolan and the Church that God created gay people to be fully who we are; we are not a ‘mistake,’” explained Martel over the telephone and in e-mail correspondence.
Like Martel, National Stonewall Democrat’s executive director Jerame Davis also found Cardinal Dolan’s presence at and prayer offered during the Republican National Convention disquieting.
“I am beyond disappointed at the selection of Cardinal Dolan to give the benediction at the convention and NSD was among the first to lodge a complaint with the DNC when the news was announced,” Davis said in e-mail correspondence.
“Dolan has been one of the most virulent anti-LGBT leaders and has said some pretty ugly things about us. Even so, there is a broader context here. This Democratic convention is, by far, the most LGBT-inclusive convention in history. With nearly 540 official LGBT participants, the adoption of a plank endorsing the freedom to marry, and speeches by prominent LGBT Americans, there should be no doubt about where this party and this president put their loyalties,” explained Davis.
Still, “Cardinal Dolan is the highest-ranking Catholic in the U.S., and he speaks to a combined congregation of nearly 80 million Catholics in this country. Denying him the opportunity to speak would have been an insult to millions of those Catholics and other people of faith. Right or wrong, we give religious beliefs a wide berth in America,” said Davis.
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