Mitt Romney’s only openly gay spokesman, Richard Grenell, left his job with the campaign this week after backlash from social conservatives.
“My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign,” Mr. Grenell said in a statement announcing his resignation.
This story has led to a fresh batch of questions about whether or not gays and lesbians have a place in the Republican party. Mr. Grenell may have been the only openly gay person to take a prominent role on Mr. Romney’s campaign, but there is a growing number of openly gay Republicans gaining prominence in the GOP.
Read on to acquaint yourself with ten of the top power gay Republicans.
Ken Mehlman says he came out to his friends, family and political associates in 2010.
""It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," Mr. Mehlman said at the time. "Over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive."
Mr. Mehlman was George W. Bush's campaign chair in 2004 and Chairman of the RNC from 2005 until 2007.
Longshot Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger is a former political consultant who has worked on campaigns for former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford. Mr. Karger proudly describes himself on his website as "the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major political party in American history." Mr. Karger's campaign slogan is "Fred Who?"
Richard Tisei is a 49-year-old Republican real estate agent currently running for the congressional seat in Massachusetts' sixth district. His opponent is a 15 year incumbent, John Tierney, who is thought to be quite vulnerable and has been identified as the Republican Party's top target in the House.
Mr. Tisei formerly headed the Republican caucus in the Massachusetts State Senate. In 2010, he was tapped to run as lieutenant goveror alongside businessman Charlie Baker. Prior to that race, Mr. Tisei came out about his sexuality in an interview with the Boston Globe. Mr. Tisei and Mr. Baker lost to the incumbent, Deval Patrick. If he wins his congressional campaign, Mr. Tisei will be the first member of the House who came out before being elected. Last month, Ken Mehlman hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Tisei at his apartment in Chelsea.
R. Clarke Cooper
R. Clarke Cooper is the exectuive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's oldest and best known LGBT Republican organization. The Log Cabin Republicans were founded in 1977 in California to oppose an attempt to keep homosexuals from teaching in California public schools. Mr. Cooper, who was named executive director in 2010, is a former Eagle Scout and Army combat veteran.
Jimmy LaSalvia & Christopher R. Barron
In 2009, Jimmy LaSalvia and Christopher R. Barron founded GOProud. Both men were former members of the Log Cabin Republicans who founded a new group because they believed that organization was too moderate. GOProud's "advisory council" includes Grover Norquist and Ann Coulter.
Paul Babeu is the sheriff of Pinal County Arizona who is also running for Congress. As sheriff, Mr. Babeu has earned a reputation as a fierce opponent of illegal immigration that landed him spots campaigning alongside Mitt Romney and John McCain during their presidential bids. In February, Mr. Babeu revealed he was gay after a Mexican immigrant named Jose Orozco told the press he had a relationship with Mr. Babeu. Mr. Orozco said he was inspired to come forward because Mr. Babeu threatened him with deportation. Mr. Babeu's boyfriend drama led him to resign his position as co-chair of Mr. Romney's campaign in Arizona. However, despite the controversy, Mr. Babeu is continuing with what many now view as a longshot congressional campaign.
On Wednesday, Zachary Wyatt, a member of Missouri's House of Representatives, revealed he is "a proud gay man" while speaking at a hearing asking his fellow Republicans in the State Legislature to oppose the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Today I ask you to stand with me as a proud Republican, a proud veteran, and a proud gay man who wants to protect all kids, addressing bullying in our schools,” Mr. Wyatt said.
Missouri House Bill 2051, better known as the "Don't Say Gay Bill" would prohibit teachers from discussing sexual orientation in schools except as part of “scientific instruction concerning human reproduction.”
Mr. Wyatt is a 27-year-old Air Force veteran. According to the Kirksville Daily Express, Mr. Wyatt has Wyatt has "made headlines for the last month." His exploits include; "withdrawing from the race for Mo. House District 3 Representative in early April when he announced he would study marine biology at the University of Hawaii, writing "a sharply-worded condemnation of fellow Republicans for their lack of action" on a resolution he filed to impeach a Circuit Court judge.
In 2010, Mr. Ashburn was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Sources told the local press he was busted after leaving a gay nightclub in Sacramento. He subsequently came out during a radio interview.
"I am gay... those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long," Mr. Ashburn said.
In that interview, Mr. Ashburn, stood by his votes for the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 and a vote against legislation to recognize gay marriages from out of state.
"My votes reflect the wishes of the people in my district. And I have always felt that my faith and allegiance was to the people there in the district, my constituents," he said.
Mr. Ashburn is currently running to be supervisor of Kern County.
Richard Tafel is a former executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. In 1999, he wrote a book called Party Crasher: A Gay Republican Challenges Politics as Usual that was part memoir and part political manifesto. David Brooks had an interesting take on the book in his review for The New York Times.
"Living in Washington, I thought I was inured to self-admiration, but passages here would leave Narcissus gaping and applauding," Mr. Brooks wrote.
Bruce Carroll is the founder of GayPatriot, a blog that bills itself as "the internet home for American gay conservatives." On his Facebook page, Mr. Carroll describes himself as " a boy born in the bayou, raised in Amish Country, schooled in snowy upstate NY." GayPatriot is part of Roger Simon's conservative blog network, Pajamas Media. According to Quantcast the site is visited by over 100,000 people in the U.S. each month.