Director of Log Cabin Republicans: You can thank Mitt Romney for recent marriage equality gains

Gregory Angelo thinks Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat was a tipping point on gay marriage, not Barack Obama's reversal

Published April 23, 2013 6:56PM (EDT)

Mitt Romney                        (AP)
Mitt Romney (AP)

President Barack Obama publicly backed marriage equality in May 2012, reaffirmed his position in his second inaugural address and had his administration file pro-gay marriage briefs in both the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act Supreme Court cases. In the months since, politicians from both parties have come out in support of gay marriage, and many advocates view the president's reversal on equal marriage as a tipping point for other lawmakers, even among Republicans.

But not Gregory Angelo, the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. He credits Mitt Romney's tone-deaf position on these issues and his crushing defeat in the 2012 election for slowly (seriously slowly) bringing the GOP around to marriage equality, as he told the Advocate:

“With this recent group of Republicans, I wouldn’t say it was Barack Obama; it was Mitt Romney [that swayed them],” says Gregory Angelo, Log Cabin Republicans’ executive director. “It was the crushing defeat of 2012. Voters did not appreciate the Republican messaging on marriage equality.” Now Republicans are concerned with winning the next election and some believe digging in their heels on this issue will not help.

“This is just getting the Republican Party in line with the preponderance of the nation that supports marriage rights and equal rights for same-sex couples,” Angelo says.

But another top Republican operative is dubious of Romney's, or Obama's, ultimate influence: "I think that most of the signers of the brief, like other Americans who have increasingly embraced the freedom to marry, are most impacted by what they see in their own lives,” former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman told the Advocate. “That’s how change so often occurs — people reflecting on their core values and also their experiences," he added.

Mehlman may, ultimately, have the stronger point. Because if Angelo is right and the GOP is genuinely concerned with winning over the majority of voters who now support gay marriage, they are doing a really, really terrible job of it.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Barack Obama Gay Marriage Gay Rights Marriage Equality Mitt Romney Rob Portman