POLITICS

Obama Campaign Targets Pro-Gay Rights Republicans

05/23/2012 06:00 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2012

President Barack Obama's reelection campaign will not ignore Republican voters as it conducts a national outreach effort targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

On a conference call to announce the launch of Obama Pride: LGBT Americans for Obama, Jamie Citron, the campaign's LGBT national vote director, told reporters that the stark contrast between the president's record with the gay community and Mitt Romney's "will resonate with LGBT people across the board, regardless of their political affiliation."

With same-sex marriage remaining a divisive issue among voters, the Obama Pride initiative signifies a more fervent attempt to court the gay community and solidify support for the president's same sex-marriage endorsement earlier this month. That means it will reach out to political constituencies beyond those traditionally falling under the Democratic umbrella.

Joe Solmonese, Obama's national campaign co-chairman, explicitly raised the idea that some pro-gay rights Republicans could be brought into the president's fold, both because of the president's announcement in support of same-sex marriage and because of Mitt Romney's opposition to it:

"Senator McCain did not support the Federal Marriage Amendment," Solmonese said, referring to the proposal to define marriage in the U.S. Constitution as a union between one man and one woman. "But Governor Romney has very clearly committed to do the work of passing the Federal Marriage Amendment."

"The Federal Marriage Amendment [is] the ultimate deal breaker for us," Solmonese said. "It is the enshrining of discrimination into the United States Constitution. It is absolutely the last line in terms of really discriminating against this community," he continued. "It is incredibly important that we make sure that every member of this community, Republicans in particular, understand that distinction and understand just what that would mean."

The Republican gay rights community is a small one, but in a close election every group is likely to be courted. The conventional wisdom has been that the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage will hurt him. The Obama campaign clearly is trying to turn that logic on its head, as polling points to an ongoing divide over the issue.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll, released on Wednesday morning, showed Obama's support for same-sex marriage as a contributing factor to public opinion shifting in its favor, with 53 percent of Americans polled saying such unions should be legal.

But according to a Quinnipiac University poll also released on Wednesday, 25 percent of voters said they are less likely to vote for Obama following his announcement, revealing the pitfalls of a same-sex marriage endorsement.

The campaign's grassroots initiative seeks to mobilize LGBT volunteers through trainings, phone banks and house parties in some key swing states, including Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada and Michigan.

In the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama also formed a committee to target gay voters but this year's initiative has a more aggressive agenda.

The Obama campaign's latest pro-LGBT video:

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