Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced Wednesday that he will run for president as a Libertarian Party candidate in 2012. He will almost certainly be the only presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Johnson’s support for same-sex marriage, and President Barack Obama’s opposition to it, could put the support and votes of gay Americans in play during the election.
Lt. Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, told The Daily Caller, “I am not in the habit of endorsing candidates and I no longer belong to any party, but I hold Governor Johnson in highest regards and think he would be an amazing president.”
Choi, who has declared in the past that he won’t vote for Obama again, called Johnson “a patriot, a hero, a fighter and a friend. I salute him proudly and wish him the very best in his campaign.”
GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia similarly indicated that gay voters may consider voting for Johnson.
“Gov. Johnson may very well attract gay voters because of his position on same-sex civil marriage, but I think that everyone on the ballot in November is going to give Obama a run for his money,” said LaSalvia.
Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger, currently running as the first openly gay man seeking a major party’s nomination, said that he is sticking with the GOP, but does find Johnson appealing as a candidate.
“I am a huge Gary Johnson fan and consider him a friend, but I am staying in the Republican Party and will fight for change from within,” said Karger.
Johnson is himself aware that his position on same-sex marriage may pull votes away from the major party candidates, particularly from President Obama.
“I’m the only one advocating for marriage equality,” Johnson told The Daily Caller. “If I were gay, that would really be an important issue for me.”
Johnson added, “What I’m being asked right now is, ‘Aren’t you going to ensure Obama’s re-election?’”
“I may well take more votes from Obama because of gay rights,” he conceded, but also “because of the war, because of the war on drugs, you can really go down the list.”
The Human Rights Campaign, a large gay rights organization based in Washington, D.C., has already endorsed Obama’s re-election bid. The group’s offices are closed for the holidays, so it was unable to comment on whether the endorsement will be reconsidered.
Choi said HRC members “should reconsider their purpose vis a vis the gay movement. If we are to play second fiddle to any one political party, our rights will always be relegated to the back of the DNC bus,” he said.
“It’s one thing to talk about the issues, and it’s another thing to look at the resume and decide: Is he going to hang with what he says?” Johnson mused. “And everything about my resume says I’m going to hang with what I’m saying.”