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GOP touts opposition to marriage equality at anti-gay summit

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Saturday, September 15, 2012
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Republican public officials — including the No. 2 person on the GOP presidential ticket — weaved opposition to same-sex marriage into their speeches during an annual social conservative conference in D.C. as they criticized President Obama’s policies and reaffirmed traditional values.

Speakers at the the 2012 Values Voters Summit, which was hosted at the Omni Shoreham Hotel by the anti-gay Family Research Council, addressed an estimated 2,500 attendees who cheered references to prohibiting marriage rights for gay couples and making abortion illegal.

Paul Ryan. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

Perhaps the most high-profile speech at the three-day summit came from GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who made a reference to marriage when touting the values of the candidate at the top of the ticket: Mitt Romney.

“We can be confident in the rightness of our cause, and also in the integrity and readiness of the man who leads it,” Ryan said. “He is a solid and trustworthy, faithful and honorable man. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best. Not only a fine businessman, he’s a fine man, worthy of leading our country and ready to lead the great turnaround we have spent four years waiting for.”

Ryan’s description of Romney as a “defender of marriage” directly lifts from the vice presidential candidate’s speech at the Republican National Convention when he gave Romney an identical distinction.

But the reference to marriage didn’t make up a significant portion of Ryan’s remarks. Abortion and the Obama administration’s decision to mandate birth control as part of health insurance policies were more salient.

“In the Clinton years, the stated goal was to make abortion safe, legal and rare,” Ryan said. “But that was a different time and a different president. Now, apparently, the Obama-Biden ticket stands for an absolute, unqualified right to abortion at any time, under any circumstance, and even at taxpayer expense.”

Twice during Ryan’s speech, protestors interrupted and shouted at the vice presidential candidate. The second protestor said something about Romney’s now infamous remarks that “Corporations are people, my friend” before being escorted out of the room. In a YouTube video posted after the speech of one of the protesters being taken away, she was shown decrying the corporate influence over the national political parties.

Michael Key, Washington Blade

Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was also among the speakers at the summit and touted Republicans support “traditional marriage” because of the institution’s ability to keep people out of poverty.

“That is why we believe in traditional marriage, because marriage, more than any government program ever has or ever will, has lifted up people out of poverty, even those who felt there was no hope,” Cantor said. “Marriage has proven to be that formula which has been more successful at allowing for that pursuit of happiness. And that is why we stand tall and stand proud for traditional marriage.”

Cantor is among the members of House Republicans who sits on the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group and voted to take up defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law.

Romney didn’t make a live appearance at the Values Voter Summit, but spoke to attendees via a recorded video. During the video, Romney talked about his commitment to social issues, saying his administration “will defend marriage, not try to redefine it.”

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