December 28, 2006

Romney On Gay Marriage, Gay Rights

One of the recent questions about Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has swirled around the issue of gay rights. Romney once said that eh would be better on gay rights than Se. Ted Kennedy, but has stood strongly against gay marriage since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court imposed it by judicial fiat in 2003.

Romney was recently interviewed by Human Events, and answers two questions on the issue in a way that I believe should clarify his position and reconcile his positions for most conservatives.

And also on the issue of gay marriage, the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts today gave you a symbolic victory in terms of scolding some of the lawmakers for their actions. Do you believe the same [skepticism among conservatives] will hold true on gay marriage or will people still critique that 1994 letter and some of the comments you made in that campaign?

No, actually, my view on marriage has been entirely consistent over my political career. And that is that I oppose same-sex marriage. I also oppose civil unions.

There are some people who feel that is inconsistent with also encouraging the elimination of discrimination against gay people as well as others of differences. Iím very much opposed to discrimination. I also recognize that itís not wise to create a special class and establish new rights for any particular group. But Iím opposed to discrimination.

At the same time, Iím opposed to same-sex marriage. And ever since that feature has become a prominent one in my state, with the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, I have taken every action that I could conceive of within the bounds of the law to defend traditional marriage and to stop same-sex marriage.

You mentioned the decision today of the Supreme Judicial Court. Itís more than symbolic. The Supreme Judicial Courtóand this is a battle that my administration took to the courtóthey said, in fact, that the Legislature must take a vote on a citizensí petition to have this go before the voters. They must take a vote, and failure to do so would represent a violation of a legislatorís oath of office. That is a very powerful statement, and I believe it gives me a pretty significant degree of confidence that we will see on the ballot in Massachusetts the right of citizens to define marriage. And thatís what Iíve been fighting for now for over two years.

On that same subject, would you accept another endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans if it was offered to you?

Havenít thought about that. I doubt itís going to be forthcomingóand in part because for gay Americans of both Republican and Democratic stripe, the issue is now all about marriage. It is not about equality and hiring. Look, I would not discriminate against someone in a hiring position based on their sexual preference. But itís now about marriage, and I am adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage.

Iíve been to Washington to testify in favor of traditional marriage. Iíve written a letter to every U.S. senator on the topic. Iíve fought same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in every way I could within the bounds of the law. So thatís not going to make me popular with gay Republicans or gay Democrats. But there are some gay individuals who I know, who are friends of mine, who respect that fact that I believe that traditional marriage is right for the nurturing and development of children, but that I do not want to discriminate against gay people in employment or housing or other parts of their life.

In other words, Romney draws a distinction between marriage and issues of non-discrimination in housing, employment, etc.

Iíd argue that this is well within the conservative mainstream. Marriage is fundamentally an institution defined by our society as being between one man and one woman, and the American people have voted to retain that definition every time they have been given the opportunity to do so (with the exception of one poorly drafted proposal this year in Arizona). On the other hand, most Americans find discriminatory practices in employment and housing to be unacceptable and are supportive of efforts to eliminate it in cases of sexual orientation (although some, on libertarian principles, question the legitimacy of government-imposed non-discrimination requirements for any group).

Hopefully this interview and a close examination of Romneyís record will help to settle the gay issue (as well as the abortion issue) for conservatives and allow Romney to position himself as the best conservative option in 2008.

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