Will Romney Squash GOP Anti-Gay Bigotry?

I have many differences with Romney, as well as Obama -- but today, Romney gets a salute from me for hiring Richard Grenell.
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Right wing, and anti-gay provocateur Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, wrote in early 2011 that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee were just carrying too much baggage to win the GOP nomination and run for the presidency in 2012.

So, he said a second tier of candidates would probably break through -- listing "Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, John Thune, John Bolton, Mike Pence, and a possible "dark horse" (his term, not mine), Herman Cain."

Ultimately, Fischer said that in the end it would be a hard choice between Herman Cain and Mike Pence. He never gave a thought to Rick Santorum. And as we now know, Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee -- though Newt Gingrich hasn't tucked it in yet.

About John Bolton, Fischer wrote in January 2011:

John Bolton belongs in the next conservative administration, but not as president. He will be needed in the areas of national security and intelligence, and is a pretty smart fella when it comes to all that. But most of the American people have no idea who he is, and nobody knows where he stands on almost the entire range of domestic issues.

Perhaps Fischer just wasn't tuned in when John Bolton made clear in September 2010 that he "could live with" gay marriage -- and said this on Don't Ask Don't Tell:

"I don't think there is any good answer to the question why shouldn't gays and lesbians who want to serve their country be allowed to do it."

I have significant differences with John Bolton's international affairs views but I give him great credit for not being the kind of bizarre cookie cutter hard right zealot that Bryan Fischer is. Bolton has not only supported the rights agenda of gay and lesbian Americans, he has been a great boss and mentor to a number of gay people -- including the very capable and doggedly results-focused Richard "Ric" Grenell who served Bolton as spokesman during Bolton's tenure as a recess-appointed Ambassador at the United Nations; his long-time aide in many incarnations Mark Groombridge; and others.

Bolton gets my respect for this -- and I have little patience for those who disparage the competency or qualifications of anyone based on any other issue than merit.

Bryan Fischer's anti-gay bigotry, coughed up of late on Romney for hiring Richard Grenell deserves widespread repudiation and scorn by sensible folks on the right and left. Fischer tweeted yesterday:

Romney picks out & loud gay as a spokesman. If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead

Fischer didn't say the same about John Bolton who was already quite "out" about his support of gay Americans -- and if Fischer scooted through his roster of Republican possibilities, he'd see that nearly all of them had high level, plugged-in, highly competent gay and lesbian staff.

It's Fischer who is the odd man out in American politics; probably irritated that Mitt Romney punched through Fischer's incorrect political analysis of last year. One hopes that Romney stands strong -- and stand by the competence and capacity of people like Grenell -- and that we spend our time battling each other over issues that really matter to the nation.

I have many differences with Romney, as well as Obama -- but today, Romney gets a salute from me for hiring Grenell.

Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons

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