The Huffington Post Mollie Reilly First Posted: 05/14/12 06:11 PM ET Updated: 05/15/12 12:16 PM ET
An openly gay Mitt Romney donor has decided to pull his support for the presumptive GOP nominee and instead support President Obama's reelection bid, citing the former Massachusetts governor's opposition to same-sex marriage as a dealbreaker.
"I feel that I no longer wish to support your presidential campaign and ask you that you please return the maximum contribution that I gave to you last year," Bill White wrote in a letter to Romney, according to a report by CNN. "You have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and I do not support your run for president any longer."
White, a registered independent who runs a New York-based consulting firm, had given $2,500 to the Romney campaign.
White made his decision following Obama's announcement last week that he supports same-sex marriage. While he clarified to CNN that he does not agree with the president on fiscal issues, White said that Romney's speech during Liberty University's commencement on Saturday led him to believe that Romney would press for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage -- a position that White simply cannot support.
"I feel like [Romney has] declared war on my marriage," White said. "And I could just sit back and not say anything. Or I could do something about it. And I've chosen to do something about it."
During the Liberty commencement address, Romney reiterated his belief that marriage should be "between one man and one woman," despite an influential GOP pollster's warning that such a stance could prove to be politically risky as support for same-sex marriage grows.
Obama's campaign has sought to draw on that growing support by highlighting the "strong contrast" between the president and Romney. One day before Romney's speech, the Obama team's director of religious outreach, Rev. Derrick Harkins, said that Obama stands for "values like loving our neighbors, being our brother's and sister's keeper and dignity for all," a reference to the president's stance on same-sex marriage.
More responses to Obama's announcement on gay marriage:
"I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," Mitt Romney said.
"This is a major turning point in the history of American civil rights," said New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. "No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people - and I have no doubt that this will be no exception. The march of freedom that has sustained our country since the Revolution of 1776 continues, and no matter what setbacks may occur in a given state, freedom will triumph over fear and equality will prevail over exclusion. Today's announcement is a testament to the President's convictions, and it builds on the courageous stands that so many Americans have taken over the years on behalf of equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans, stretching back to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village."
"I applaud President Obama for announcing his support for marriage equality today," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) "For the first time in this nation's history, a sitting president has shown the courage and leadership to stand up for all American families by pledging to support the fundamental right of every person to marry the person they love, and to have that marriage fully respected. I commend President Obama for this brave and honest step. Those who seek to politicize civil rights for personal or political gain will certainly attack him, but the course toward marriage equality and justice is the correct and inevitable path."
"I'm thrilled!" longshot GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger told HuffPost, referring to Obama's embrace of marriage equality. Karger is the first openly gay Republican or Democrat to run for president. "The Karger pressure has worked," he joked. "Particularly after the defeat in North Carolina, we welcome him to the full equality position."
"I have been blessed to have a long and happy marriage. I strongly believe all Americans deserve that same opportunity," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)
"While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
"Barack Obama just announced he supports same-sex marriage," Mike Huckabee wrote in a fundraising appeal to supporters. "Nancy Pelosi immediately jumped on the announcement and emailed Democrat activists nationwide promising to continue their fight. This is going to be a defining issue this election. Obama, Pelosi and the Democrats have been a complete failure on economic issues so now they are going to focus on issues that will rile up their base. Well, Mr. President it's going to rile up our folks also. Men and women who support traditional marriage."
"President Obama's support for marriage equality marks an important moment for civil rights in America," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). "We simply can not treat same sex couples as second-class citizens in our country. Marriage equality is one of the most significant civil rights battles of our time and is critical to guaranteeing the equal protection under the law promised to every American in the Constitution. The President's support for marriage equality should inspire Congress, Governors and state legislatures to advance civil rights for all Americans."
"This is an historic moment and I applaud the President for his decision and courage," Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said. "One of the greatest and most liberating human emotions is acceptance. And what the President did today was accept that the quality of love two people share is more important than their gender. The President's decision required him look within and engage his heart. It is truly wonderful and welcome news."
"As an early and strong proponent of Marriage Equality, I am very happy that President Obama has made this announcement," said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) "Marriage Equality is a matter of basic human rights and all of America's same-sex families are now closer to having their unions recognized by our government. This is an important step in our country's march toward achieving true justice and equality for all."
"President Obama's public support for marriage equality is an historic affirmation of the fundamental American value of equal rights for all," said Howard Dean. "Having signed the nation's first law allowing Civil Unions as Governor of Vermont, I'm also proud to see our president affirm the belief that I and so many other Americans hold: loving and committed couples should have the same benefits that are extended through marriage. Marriage equality is a right and a benefit to all families."