Representative Barney Frank declares that Mitt Romney’s election would be a “serious setback” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in a new video being released Thursday by a pair of liberal super PACs.
Frank, the first member of Congress to marry a same-sex partner, is the most prominent figure to tape an interview for the “Mitt Gets Worse” project, launched in July by the Courage Campaign Super PAC and American Bridge 21st Century. “Mitt Gets Worse” is a collection of video testimonies from people critical of Romney’s record on LGBT issues, who argue the Republican presidential nominee would make life worse for sexual minorities, if he were to win the White House.
The super PACs also have petitioned the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP gay rights group, to withhold its endorsement.
In the five-and-a-half-minute video, Frank speculates that Romney might reinstitute the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay members, lead passage of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriages and invalidating existing nuptials, and nominate socially conservative Supreme Court justices who would make the court “shut” to LGBT Americans.
“Who needs the risk?” said Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs. “The American people don’t want to spend time fighting these battles all over again.”
The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but Romney has said that he would not reverse President Obama’s repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“That’s already occurred. I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage,” Romney told the Des Moines Register late last year. “I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, due to the complicating features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down, and moving in that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem.”
Romney does support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and backed a state amendment in Massachusetts, when he was governor. But he also has expressed skepticism about the wisdom of pursuing constitutional amendments because they are difficult to ratify, requiring passage in both houses of Congress and majority votes in 38 of 50 states.
The Constitution has been amended only 17 times in the 221 years since ratification of the original Bill of Rights and only once in the last four decades.
It is uncertain whether the winner of the presidential race will have an opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court Justice, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be 83 in 2016 and is considered likely to retire before then by some court experts. Ginsburg is a liberal, and her replacement with a conservative justice would ensure a strong conservative majority.
Despite Romney’s statement that he would not reinstitute “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the unlikelihood of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Frank makes the case in the video that such measures are possible under a Romney administration because “he will get as bad as he has to be for political advantage.”
“I don’t really know that Mitt Romney dislikes lesbian and gay people,” Frank says. But, he charges, Romney is “consumed by ambition and willing to trash minority groups and appeal to prejudice against them for political advancement.”
Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century, echoed Frank’s sentiment in an interview. Mollineau did not accuse Romney of bigotry but said he lacks the “backbone” to stand up to others in the Republican Party.
“He would be forever in search of validation from conservatives,” Mollineau said. “I could see him getting to a place where in order to appease the Tea Party and his conservative base that he would go along with things that are hostile to the LGBT community.”Callum Borchers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.