There was no surprise in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary results: The field’s most conservative candidate, Rick Santorum, won primaries in two of the nation’s most conservative states. The candidate with the most stated support of Republican gays, Mitt Romney, tied for second with Newt Gingrich in Alabama and was a point behind him in Mississippi.
But Romney won the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa and can still claim the mantle of frontrunner. He was 489 delegates (going by CNN’s estimate) to Santorum’s 234, Gingrich’s 139, and Ron Paul’s 66. Romney’s won contests in 19 states and territories, compared to Santorum’s 10 (all in southern or small population states), Gingrich’s two, and Paul’s one.
The mainstream media’s focus now is on the potential for an out-and-out slugfest between Romney and Santorum, a spoiler role for Gingrich, and an always-looming third-party effort from Paul.
But for LGBT people, there was at least one troubling sign of the potential for gay issues to be dragged out onto the mat for the candidates to punch at to prove who can be the most reliably conservative.
That sign came in the form of a press release this week from a little-known group that claimed it sent out “millions” of computerized telephone and email messages in Mississippi and Alabama to “deny” Romney any southern support for his purportedly pro-gay record.
No news organization in any of those states has reported voters receiving the message the group claims to have sent out. The SunHerald of Biloxi reported that the state’s public service commissioner received “lots” of complaints about robo calls (35), but the focus of those seemed to be one actor Chuck Norris recorded for Gingrich and one financier Donald Trump recorded for Romney.
Nevertheless the anti-gay group calling itself “Jews and Christians Together” publicized its anti-gay campaign to oppose Romney and support Santorum. According to the group’s press release, posted on what appears to be a hastily created website Monday (March 12), Santorum is the only candidate “who can be trusted to uphold traditional marriage, a straight military, and the rights of American children to have both a mother and a father.”
The group’s one-minute audio recording, also posted at jewsandchristianstogether.org, has a long-time Massachusetts gadfly, Brian Camenker, saying that Romney “promoted homosexuality in our elementary schools, and unconstitutionally ordered state officials to make Massachusetts America’s first same-sex marriage state.” A woman on the recording identifies herself as “Darcy Brandon…a Christian from California,” and claims Romney “supports open homosexuality in the military, the appointment of homosexual judges, and the ENDA law, making it illegal to fire a man who wears a dress and high heels to work, even if he’s your kid’s teacher.”
The website solicits donations to MassResistance, Camenker’s anti-gay organization in Massachusetts.
In an interview with CNN February 24, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he thinks the party’s staunch opposition to equal rights for gays “makes the party looks like it isn’t a modern party—it doesn’t understand the modern world.”
The next big primary —and the biggest one-state delegate count up for grabs— is Illinois next Tuesday, March 20.