Gay Romney Spokesman Resigns

Richard Grenell resigned yesterday - but is the religious right to blame?

One of Mitt Romney’s top spokesmen Richard Grenell has resigned from the campaign as of late yesterday, reports the Washington Post. His departure comes just two weeks after being hired by Romney, who’s expected to be the GOP frontrunner for president.

Up until now, the foreign policy spokesman was criticized by both the left (for controversial tweets about Democratic women like Michelle Obama – the account has since been deleted) and by the right, most notably, for being openly gay during a conservative campaign that has proven to be in opposition of LGBT rights.

Family Research Council‘s (FRC) Tony Perkins, former FRC president Gary Bauer and American Family Association‘s Bryan Fischer all voiced criticism of Grenell when Romney hired him. Fischer even went on the record to say that Grenell posed a national security risk during a radio show. He theorizes that because of Grenell’s homosexuality, he must have hundreds, if not thousands, of “random, frequent and anonymous sexual encounters and that becomes a significant issue when we’re talking about appointing somebody to a post as sensitive as a spokesman for national security and foreign policy.”

So this is what right wingers like Fischer really think about gay people? We should note that these are the same folks that have spent millions to fight the legalization of same-sex marriage and, in turn, disenfranchising many gay and lesbian families.

As for Grenell’s departure, Romney’s campaign expressed disappointed with the resignation yesterday. “We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades said in a statement. “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”

But insiders and LGBT activists are criticizing the campaign leaders for bowing to pressure from the religious right who opposed Grenell’s hiring from the beginning.

“Mitt Romney is once again trying to have it both ways,” says Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, “claiming that he personally tolerates gays and lesbians while at the same time pandering to the anti-gay right-wing base whose intolerance is legendary. Obviously, it’s not working.”

Keegan and other activists question Romney’s ability to separate from the religious right on key issues that impact the American public. “Romney is clearly depending on the religious right leaders to help him energize a wary base and they insist that he tow the line,” he says. “But the support of those leaders comes at a price. If Romney is letting the likes of Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer dictate all his hiring decisions, he leaves no doubt as to what kind of president he would be.”

What do you think? Should Grenell have resigned? And does the religious right have too much power over GOP candidates?