Gay Rights Advocates Divided On Paul Ryan Pick

Gay Rights Advocates Split Over Paul Ryan

Since his pick as Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan has not spoken about his position on gay rights. But the Log Cabin Republicans, one of just two conservative gay rights groups in the country, has pointed to him as a model for how to reach gay voters.

In an opinion piece in the Daily Caller, the group's executive director, R. Clarke Cooper, celebrated Ryan's "economic vision," alongside his 2007 vote in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), a law that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Back in the 1990s, Romney supported ENDA as well. In a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans he pledged to co-sponsor the legislation at the federal level, but in 2006, he said he had reversed his position on the bill.

"Romney should take a page from his running mate’s playbook and support stronger workplace nondiscrimination laws," Cooper wrote.

Cooper also said that President Barack Obama failed to follow through on a pledge to sign an executive order banning discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender people. He said that if Romney were to support the legislation he could, "draw a favorable contrast between himself and the president."

The Log Cabin Republicans have not yet endorsed Romney for president. Many gay Republicans have wavered in their support for Romney, partly because he signed a pledge opposing same sex marriage. But Ryan's vote for ENDA has made some of them more excited about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

"Our members are thrilled," Cooper told The Huffington Post.

Other gay rights advocates are less confident in Ryan's record. In 2007, before Ryan voted for ENDA, he voted to shelve the bill. On every other major piece of gay rights legislation, Ryan has angled against gay rights advocates. He supports the Defense of Marriage Act, voted in favor of the Marriage Protection act, voted against repealing the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy and voted against expanding the country's hate crime legislation to protect gay people.

"The folks over at Log Cabin are smoking some good stuff," said Jerame Davis, the executive director of the Stonewall Democrats, another partisan gay rights group. "He is not a friend to the LGBT community by any stretch of the imagination."

Ryan's congressional office directed questions about ENDA to Romney's campaign, and Romney's campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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