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Romney Says He’s “Fine” With Gay Adoptions, Then Flip-Flops

On Thursday, Mitt Romney made some news by taking a position on adoption by same-sex couples that was radically different from the one that most social conservatives would support:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Thursday that while he opposes same-sex marriage, he is “fine” with gay couples adopting children. The presumptive nominee also declined to criticize President Obama’s reversal on the issue, saying he would “respect the right of the president to reach the conclusion he has.”

In his most detailed comments to date on the issue of civil rights for gay people, Romney told Fox News host Neil Cavuto, “I know many gay couples that are able to adopt children. That’s fine. But my preference is that we … continue to define marriage as the relationship between a man and a woman.”

The statement seemed to put Romney in the position of condoning same-sex families with children as long as the parents do not marry.

Later in the interview, he said, “I believe that my record as a person who has supported civil rights is strong and powerful. At the same time, I believe that marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history, and that marriage is literally, by its definition, a relationship between a man and a woman. And if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child — in my state individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that’s something that people have a right to do. But to call that marriage is something that in my view is a departure from the real meaning of that word.”

Leaving aside for the moment that Romney was essentially saying here that he believed that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children, but that they shouldn’t be allowed to marry, his statement on Thursday was somewhat of a pleasant surprise.

The legal status of gay adoption in the United States is murky at best; right now, full adoption rights are only granted to same-sex couples in 11 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam. Other states would seem to allow adoption by a single person who happens to be gay (although Pennsylvania law states that the gay couples in a civil union can adopt the natural child of the other partner). Florida had a law barring gay adopting on its books due to a 1977 campaign led by Anita Bryant, but that law was overturned by a Federal appeals court in 2010 and gay adoption in now legal in Florida. In 2008, Arkansas voters had approved a referendum that would have banned adoption by gay couples but that law was overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Despite these legal setbacks, though, it is generally the case that social conservatives remain opposed to adoption by same-sex couples, which is why it was refreshing to see Romney actually take a stand against them for once.

Well, to be more accurate, it was refreshing for about twenty four hours:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday backed away from his support of adoptions by gay couples, saying that he simply “acknowledges” the legality of such adoptions in many states.

(…)

On Friday,he was asked, in an interview with CBS affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., how his opposition to gay marriage “squared” with his support for gay adoptions. Romney told anchor Paul Cameron, “Well, actually I think all states but one allow gay adoption, so that’s a position which has been decided by most of the state legislatures, including the one in my state some time ago. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.”

So just when we had thought that Romney had stood up an made a statement of what he thought was the right thing to do, he backs off and says he was merely making a statement about what the law is. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Romney’s statement on Friday isn’t entirely accurate. There’s a significant difference between saying that gay adoption is legal in all states but one and saying that adoption by gay couples is legal. (Source) As I noted above, that is currently only explicitly legal in 13 jurisdictions in the United States. Indeed it is true that most states permit single-parent adoption when the parent is homosexual, but the majority of those states also bar joint adoption by a gay couple (with some states having an exception if the child in question is the natural child of one of the partners) Since it was adoptions by gay couples that Romney was originally referring to on Thursday, his comment on Friday essentially involved moving the goal posts, in addition to wimping out on standing up for something for once.

That, I think, is the root of the problem that some people seem to have with Mitt Romney. He seems to come across as a guy who really doesn’t have much of a core, and who’s willing to bend in whatever direction the political winds might blow. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing if the public buys into the idea that this election is about picking the guy who would be the best manager for the economy, but American voters aren’t usually that cold-blooded in choosing their political leaders. If the Romney campaign is going to “reinvent” the candidate between now and the convention, one of the things they’d be advised to do is to show the public that Mitt Romney is something more than an emotionless automaton. As Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry could tell you, that’s not usually an image that leads to victory.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Romney………………………………………

    :-))

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. Hey Norm says:

    “…Perhaps that’s not a bad thing if the public buys into the idea that this election is about picking the guy who would be the best manager for the economy…”

    But to buy that you have to buy into the idea of massive defense spending increases, huge tax cuts for the wealth — beyond the Bush Tax Cuts…all paid for on the backs of the middle and lower classes. Taken with his comments about how the economy should be making 500K jobs a month and we should have 4% unemployment…he doesn’t seem the least bit credible on the economy. So I’m not sure how you square that circle.
    Face it…the ONLY THING Mitt Romney has to offer Republican voters is that he is the last Not Obama standing. Not much of a platform.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  3. Herb says:

    Obama: I’m a man of principle, but I can be swayed by a good argument.

    Romney: What’s the principle again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  4. Bleev K says:

    Now that all the crazies are gone, we can finally see that Romney is… Well… Not that bright.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  5. michael reynolds says:

    What Fortune 500 corporation would tolerate for long a CEO who demonstrated no core values, reversed himself every 24 hours, lied almost as a reflex and did each of these things so hamfistedly that they quickly came to define that executive?

    The GOP has made a really bad choice of a candidate.

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  6. michael reynolds says:

    Look at it this way: does anything Romney does remind you of Jack Welch or Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs? This clown calls himself a businessman? Maybe a used car dealer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. anjin-san says:

    Former Bush pollster Jan van Lohuizen warns Republicans in a new memo they are increasingly on the wrong side of the gay marriage issue:

    “The increase in support is taking place among all partisan groups. While more Democrats support gay marriage than Republicans, support levels among Republicans are increasing over time. The same is true of age: younger people support same sex marriage more often than older people, but the trends show that all age groups are rethinking their position.”

    http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/05/12/views_on_gay_marriage_changing_rapidly.html

    Gay rights is an issue who’s time has come. Romney is clinging to the past. Beyond the 27%, I think Americans know what century they live in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. al-Ameda says:

    He’s becoming a parody of himself, and that’s dangerous territory.
    Romney consistently amazes me with his “flexibility” on everything.

    (1) He didn’t support the Auto Industry Bailout, but he says he did.
    (2) He didn’t support the idea of going into Pakistan to get Bin Laden, but he says anyone would have made that decision.
    (3) He supports the right of gay couples to adopt children, but not because he supports it philosophically, but because it seems to be the law in many states.
    (4) He supports insurance mandates when they’re in Republican legislation, but not when they’re in Democratic legislation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    Former Bush pollster Jan van Lohuizen warns Republicans in a new memo they are increasingly on the wrong side of the gay marriage issue

    My college-graduated twenty-something aged daughters and their friends have no problem whatsoever with gay marriage, gay adoption or any of the issues surrounding the gay and lesbian community.

    Now, I live out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, however I would guess that the attitudes of young people in the other urban metroplexes of the East and West coasts are similar. A generation from now I suspect that it will have sorted itself out with a significant minority of people – in the Bible Belt of the South and Midwest – remaining opposed, maybe that’s 33%-40%. I’m guessing that it will remain a States Right issue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. Hey Norm says:

    @ al-Ameda…
    I think it’s a states rights issue for a while…but ultimately the federal government will step in.
    It’s a civil rights issue. Sooner or later there will be something akin to the Civil Rights Act.
    It’s inevitable I think. If California’s Prop 8 gets to the Supreme Court it may speed that outcome. Of course Romney and the Mormon’s gave a whole bunch of money to the Prop 8 cause.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one.

    As opposed to what? Kidnapping the children of gay couples to make sure they’re raised by heterosexual families? Well gee, that’s mighty white of you, Mitt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. michael reynolds says:

    Ted Olsen says this will eventually be decided by the Supremes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  13. Scott F. says:

    Romney’s a coward – plain and simple.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. al-Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @Hey Norm:

    I agree. It seems to me that sooner or later the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution is going to be front and center on these issues. Perhaps the California (Validity of Proposition 8) case will expedite or provide the impetus toward a Supreme Court hearing on it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. WR says:

    @michael reynolds: “What Fortune 500 corporation would tolerate for long a CEO who demonstrated no core values, reversed himself every 24 hours, lied almost as a reflex and did each of these things so hamfistedly that they quickly came to define that executive?”

    Apparently, any of them. As long as he was willing to pay himself twenty million dollars a year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. Terrye says:

    I do not think it is fair to say Romney flip flopped on this. I heard his original remarks..he said that he was fine with the laws allowing gay adoption..that these laws existed in certain states..he never said he personally supported it..Pelosi tells us that she does not support abortion as far as her religion is concerned..but that she respects a woman’s right to choose whether or not she herself believes in abortion.

    I think this is much the same sort of distinction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  17. An Interested Party says:

    …does…Romney…remind you of Jack Welch or Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs?

    More like Lyle Waggoner, actually… it’s a shame that Sarah Palin couldn’t be his Wonder Woman…

    A generation from now I suspect that it will have sorted itself out with a significant minority of people – in the Bible Belt of the South and Midwest – remaining opposed, maybe that’s 33%-40%.

    Much like how many of those same people are also opposed to interracial marriage…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Terrye:
    I heard his original remarks too. He was asked follow-ups and continued to say he had no problem with gay adoption. Later that day I heard Toby Perkins say that he disagreed with Romney. And now Romney is shaking the etch-a-sketch yet again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. RL says:

    “Florida had a law barring gay adopting on its books due to a 1977 campaign led by Anita Bryant, but that law was overturned by a Federal appeals court in 2010 and gay adoption in now legal in Florida.”

    Correction: The Florida law was overturned by a state appeals court, the Third DCA in Miami, not a federal court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Terrye

    What’s your address? We are going to get an etch-a-sketch shipped out to you at once.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. grumpy realist says:

    Is anyone surprised by this?

    I just hope that Obama et al are storing up all of these instances ready to pounce. Looks like Romney would be a president who would say whatever the audience in front of him would want him to say. And he thinks he would be able to negotiate with Putin? Fuhgettabahtit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  22. I made the following comment back during the faux controversy about Barack Obama’s composite “girlfriends”:

    Mitt Romney is a composite character too, but he’s a composite of the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion from The Wizard of Oz because he doesn’t have a heart, he doesn’t have a brain, and he definitely doesn’t have any courage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Scott says:

    @Terrye:

    @Terrye

    Please tell me you did not just use Pelosi’s rationale to justify the RINO’s comments.

    I think I’ve heard it all now.

    This RINO is an idiot without a principle to his name. I’m a conservative, but there is NO WAY IN HELL this RINO will be getting my vote in November.

    If the GOP nominates this idiot, the party will have shot itself in the foot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Inked Professor says:

    Romney said, “marriage has been defined the same way for literally thousands of years by virtually every civilization in history, and that marriage is literally, by its definition, a relationship between a man and a woman.” His own great-grandfather was a polygamist!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0