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Romney’s new social-conservative team in Florida includes many anti-gay activists

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced the members of his Social Conservatives Statewide Steering Committee today; the list includes prominent anti-gay rights and anti-abortion rights activists in Florida’s Christian right circles.

According to a press release from the campaign posted by The Miami Herald:

Each member has been an active voice in state politics and an advocate for conservative causes and issue campaigns. The Romney campaign will utilize this coalition to perform voter outreach and coalition building for Get Out the Vote efforts.

“Mitt Romney is pro-life and is a true conservative on issues of family and faith,” said State Co-Chair Pat Neal, former State Senator and former Chair of the Board of the Christian Coalition of Florida. “The members of this committee are tired of the liberal policies of the Obama Administration and are confident that Governor Romney will stand up for the values that have made our country strong and will appoint judges that respect the Constitution and the rule of law.”

“I am honored by the support of these important Florida leaders,” said Mitt Romney. “Like them, I believe that America is great because of the faith of our founders and the strength of our families, and we must do everything that we can to preserve both.”* *

According to the list of names released, former congressman Dave Weldon was named chair of the committee. Weldon was the founder of his own Christian Coalition-like group called the Space Coast Family Forum. Weldon is known for his “ideological zeal” on issues such as abortion rights.

The state co-chairs of the committee include state Sen. Anitere Flores, Neal, Nancy McGowan and state Rep. Daniel Davis.* *

Flores has positioned herself as one of the state Legislature’s most active anti-abortion policy-makers. Last session, she successfully introduced a ballot measure (set to appear in the 2012 ballot) that would roll back a woman’s right to privacy in the Florida constitution.

More recently, Flores introduced an “omnibus anti-choice bill” that would make it harder for women in the state to receive legal abortions, as well as make it harder for providers to operate a clinic that would provide them.

Neal is the former chairman of the Christian Coalition of Florida and the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition — two prominent Christian right advocacy groups in the state. Neal offered a prayer before an August Sarasota rally for Romney opponent Michele Bachmann.**

McGowan, a conservative activist, has been twice commissioned for Respect Life, the Catholic Church’s anti-abortion campaign. She also served as a state co-chair of the Social Conservatives for Pam Bondi for Attorney General.

The* Herald* reports that McGowan was also “appointed by Attorney General Bill McCollum to serve on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.” The commission recently released its “2011 Summary of Florida Laws Affecting Women and Families” without any mention of the five abortion bills that were signed into law this year in Florida. Spokespeople for the commission explained that the bills were “inadvertently left out of the published report.

The* Herald* reports that Davis is a “Values Voter leader in Northeast Florida and Deacon in the Trinity Baptist Church of Jacksonville.”

Romney’s 17-member steering committee includes Christian pastors, Christian Coalition members, several advocates who successfully championed Florida’s 2008 anti-gay marriage amendment and a former vice president for Florida Right to Life, to name a few.

Photo: Mitt Romney (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

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