WASHINGTON -- A prominent gay Republican group offered Mitt Romney its "qualified endorsement" on Tuesday, calling it the right decision for the nation even as it slammed Romney's opposition to gay marriage.
Rather than offer the Republican presidential nominee its full support, Log Cabin Republicans said it will focus its efforts instead on Republican candidates for House and Senate who favor equality for gays and lesbians.
"If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Gov. Romney may not be that voter's choice," the group said in its endorsement, adding that its members value a diverse set of issues. "We believe Gov. Romney will make cutting spending and job creation his priorities, and, as his record as governor of Massachusetts suggests, will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans."
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email that the candidate welcomes the endorsement and appreciates the group's support.
A lengthy explanation released by Log Cabin Republicans under the banner "We Are Americans First" was part endorsement, part rebuke to a Republican Party whose standard-bearers the group said "appear to be caught up in an outdated culture war." The group argued that Americans of all sexual orientations have suffered financially under President Barack Obama, and while Romney may not share all of their views, he could be worse.
"Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann. Otherwise, our decision would have been different," the group said.
Even so, Log Cabin Republicans, a vocal and long-time critic of Romney's opposition to gay marriage and civil unions, said it would continue fighting a federal amendment banning gay marriage, which Romney supports, and condemned "the aspects of the GOP platform which work to exclude our families."
Stonewall Democrats, a national gay group backing Obama, called the decision by Log Cabin Republicans shameful and insulting. "This is politics at its worst _ when a community sells out its own people for the gain of a few individuals," Jerame Davis, the group's executive director, said in a statement.
The last-minute endorsement by the Republican group reflected persistent tensions among gay conservatives about what role to play within a party still largely opposed to many of the broader gay community's priorities. Another gay Republican group, GOProud, in June said it would "enthusiastically endorse" Romney and pledged to "commit significant resources" to electing him.