David Kochel, Mitt Romney's Iowa
strategist, on Monday publicly endorsed gay marriage.
Speaking at an event hosted by Iowa
Republicans for Freedom, a group which supports marriage equality,
Kochel argued that marriage equality was a conservative value.
“Support for the freedom to marry is
emerging as a mainstream position in the Republican Party,” he
said, according to a press release. “If we are to be the party of
principles and values, isn't our first obligation to the principle of
freedom, and the value of individual liberty?”
In comments to The
Huffington Post, Kochel recalled being asked his position on
the issue by a student at his son's high school graduation during the
“I answered the question very
honestly,” he said. “'Well, for me personally,' I said, 'I think
that rights need to be extended to all people regardless of
orientation.' And several of the students started nodding their
heads, and began to question why so many in my party don't have this
In a Monday tweet, Kochel said he has
supported such unions for “at least 12 years.”
Also joining Kochel at Monday's Des
Moines event was former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken
Mehlman. Mehlman came out gay in 2010, saying he wanted to become an
In a blog post, Bob Vander Plaats,
president of THE FAMiLY LEADER, Iowa's leading Christian conservative
organization, dismissed the event's message.
“[I]s this really what politics is
about? Are we really supposed to abandon the core values and
principles that have served us well throughout civilization so we can
Vander Plaats argued that marriage
equality foes are on the right side of history.
“Leaders need to do what is right
because it is right. This is how [President] Lincoln led in freeing
the slaves. This is how M.L. King led in marching for equality.
This is how Billy Graham led in urging Americans to stand for God's
design for marriage,” he