Romney’s Contradictory Positions on Gay Rights
Today’s Boston Globe carries the headline “Romney’s ’94 remarks on same-sex marriage could haunt him.” The lede:
Comments Governor Mitt Romney made during his 1994 Senate bid, in which he said the gay and lesbian community “needs more support from the Republican Party,” resurfaced yesterday, posing a potential hurdle as he appeals to conservatives for a probable presidential campaign.
Ironically, it’s a gay publication that dredged up the remarks. My initial thought upon seeing the quote at Political Wire was that it was a very prescient thing to say in 1994 and likely the right tack to take in 2008, even in the Republican primary.
The real problem, it seems to me, is that Romney has moved radically in the opposite direction since.
In 2005, Romney came under fire for saying dismissively to a South Carolina Republican audience that some gay and lesbian couples “are actually having children born to them.”
Romney has been an outspoken proponent of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Last spring, he wrote a letter to Senate majority leader Bill Frist urging its passage. “In order to protect the institution of marriage, we must prevent it from being redefined by judges like those here in Massachusetts,” Romney wrote of the amendment, which has not passed. Same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts after a 2003 decision by the Supreme Judicial Court.
His spokesman says, “Governor Romney believes Americans should be respectful of all people. What he opposes are the efforts by activist judges who seek to redefine the longstanding institution of marriage being between a man and a woman.” That’s a plausible argument and, indeed, a position with which I agree. The language of the various marriage amendments out there, though, has tended to go well beyond protecting against judicial fiat.
Romney and others are going to have to carve out a consistent position on gay issues. Otherwise, they not only alienate both sides but are prey to charges of hypocrisy.