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Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today said he has picked conservative Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as his running mate against President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
LGBT rights groups and their allies quickly noted that Ryan, with only one exception, has voted consistently against equal rights.
The Log Cabin Republicans touted that lone exception – Ryan’s vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which has yet to pass – in waxing praise for Romney’s pick.
"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director.
"As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican 'path to prosperity' that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation,” he said.
“At the same time, Congressman Ryan's 2007 vote in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and his consistent willingness to engage with Log Cabin on a range of issues speaks to his record as a fair-minded policymaker. Overall, while Log Cabin Republicans have not completed the endorsement process for the 2012 presidential election, this is a choice that all Republicans can be excited about, and which sends a good message about the kind of campaign Governor Romney wants to run, and the kind of president Governor Romney wants to be," Cooper said.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to point out Ryan’s claim to fame.
“Ryan is best known for the extreme budget that bears his name -- one that would end Medicare as we know it while giving huge tax breaks to billionaires and corporations. A Romney-Ryan ticket is a frightening prospect for the middle class and anyone who might one day need Medicare or Social Security,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), speaking for the committee.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) blasted the pick, particularly because of Ryan’s anti-gay record.
HRC said Ryan's voting record in Congress -- and his public remarks -- make it clear that he does not support the dignity of LGBT Americans; a matter on which he is out-of-touch with the majority of Americans -- even those within the Republican Party.
Paul Ryan does not support LGBT families, HRC said, and has voted against allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt. He voted against hate crime protections. He opposed repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT), and he does not support marriage equality. Recent polling shows that support for marriage equality stands at 54% nationwide, with those between the ages of 18-34 supporting marriage equality by 73%; according to a June CNN/ORC International Survey. Nearly 50% of Republicans under the age of 35 also support marriage equality, according to an NBC News/WSJ poll.
"Ryan's record of voting against fairness, dignity and equality is out of touch with the majority of Americans and a fast growing majority of Republicans," said Chad Griffin, HRC president. "LGBT Americans need leadership that will continue to fight for their rights to protect their
families, marry the person they love, and enjoy equal protections under the law."
Romney's record is no better than Ryan's on matters of LGBT equality, HRC said. Romney does not support relationship recognition for LGBT people -- making him even more conservative on LGBT issues than former President George W. Bush, who supported civil unions while in office.
Romney views workplace protections for LGBT people as an "unfair burden on employers," and he does not acknowledge the dignity and respect LGBT families deserve, HRC said. As a signer of the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) "marriage pledge," Romney has committed himself to vigorously pursuing a federal marriage amendment -- a goal his running mate shares; defending the Defense of Marriage Act; and even setting up a McCarthy-like commission to investigate those who do not support NOM's anti-LGBT views.
In the House, Ryan voted against hate crimes protections for LGBT people twice. He does not support marriage equality – twice he has supported the Federal Marriage Amendment that would ban loving, committed same-sex couples from marrying, and he supported a similar constitutional amendment in his home state of Wisconsin. Ryan does not support LGBT families -- he voted in favor of banning gay and lesbian couples from adopting in the nation's capital. He also voted against repealing DADT.