Mitt Romney on Civil Rights

Former Republican Governor (MA)

Federal definition of marriage as one-man-one-woman

Q: When Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2003, you accused MA justices of assuming for themselves the powers that should belong to the state legislature. What about the New York state legislature legalizing gay marriage?

A: I'd far prefer having the representatives of the people make that decision than justices. But I believe the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level. People move from state to state; they have children. If one state recognizes a marriage and the other does not, what's the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding would there be in a state that didn't recognize a marriage in the first place? Marriage is not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state. Marriage's status should be constant across the country. I believe we should have a federal amendment in the constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, because I believe the ideal place to raise a child is in a home with a mom and a dad.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

2003: Battled legislatively against legalizing gay marriage

On Nov. 18, 2003, a 4-3 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized gay marriages in the state. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by Pres. Clinton in 1996, defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman and saying that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex. If DOMA fell, the only way left to defend traditional marriage was a constitutional amendment.

The issue grew more intense, but Bush's rhetoric did not. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was forced into a battle with his legislature in an effort to overturn the decision.

To discourage resistance, gay marriage supporters decided those who disagreed with them had to be bigots. This made gay marriage the kind of issue most political candidates dread--not because they don't know where they stand, but because no one likes being branded a hater.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.374-376 , Mar 9, 2010

Marriage is not just quaint custom; recognize critical role

Proponents of same-sex marriage have attempted to characterize its opponents as being universally antigay. That has sometimes been an effective campaign tactic, but it is untrue. And because most Americans know it is untrue, same-sex marriage has repeatedly been rejected by voters. For me and for many others, opposition to same-sex marriage stems from the strong conviction that the ideal setting in which to raise a child is in a home with both a mother and a father. Regardless of whether one's opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in religious beliefs or social considerations, the marriage relationship has been the cornerstone of the institution of family since the beginning of time. Marriage is not just a quaint social custom. It is critical for the well-being of our children and therefore fundamental to the future strength of the nation. It's time for us to recognize its critical role and finally act to preserve it as the institution that nurtures and protects our next generation.
Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.269 , Mar 2, 2010

GovWatch: 1994: Favored gays serving openly in military

Top Romney Flip Flops: #2. Gay Rights:

In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate gay rights, Romney said he was in favor of “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly” in the military. He now says it would be a mistake to interfere with the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.”

Source: GovWatch on 2008 campaign: “Top Ten Flip-Flops” , Feb 5, 2008

GovWatch: Father supported MLK, but never marched with him

“I saw my father march with Martin Luther King”
--Mitt Romney, “Faith in America” address, December 6, 2007.

This one comes at the top of my list for 2007, for two reasons.

(1) Romney was not speaking off the cuff. He had plenty of time to think about what he was saying and do his research. The Boston Herald quoted Romney as saying that “my father and I marched with King” as far back as 1978.

(2) He continued to defend the statement after it was challenged, arguing about the meaning of the word “saw.”

As governor of Michigan, George Romney supported the civil rights movement, but the Romney campaign has not been able to show that he ever marched with King. Rather than acknowledge the mistake, the campaign put the Politico website in touch with eyewitnesses who claimed that they had seen George Romney “hand in hand.” Contemporaneous newspaper reports show that the two men were in different parts of the country on the date in question.

Source: GovWatch on 2008 Pinocchio Awards for Biggest Fib of 2007 , Jan 1, 2008

Right to be kept alive means secret surveillance is OK

Q: Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

A: Intelligence and surveillance have proven to be some of the most effective national security tools we have to protect our nation. Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive and the President should not hesitate to use every legal tool at his disposal to keep America safe.

Source: Boston Globe questionnaire on Executive Power , Dec 20, 2007

Enemy combatants, if citizens, entitled to habeas corpus

Q: Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

A: All US citizens are entitled to due process, including at least some type of habeas corpus relief regardless whether they are designated unlawful enemy combatants or not.

Source: Boston Globe questionnaire on Executive Power , Dec 20, 2007

Supports Employment Nondiscrimination Act at state level

Q: You said that you would sponsor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act [banning gays from being fired]. Do you still support it?

A: At the state level. I think it makes sense for states to put in provision of this. I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be implemented at the state level. If you’re looking for someone who’s never changed any positions on any policies, then I’m not your guy. I learn from experience.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

MA Constitution, by John Adams, has no same-sex marriage

I’ve been in a state that has gay marriage, and I recognize that the consequences of gay marriage fall far beyond just the relationship between a man and a woman. They also relate to our kids and the right of religion to be practiced freely in a society.

The status of marriage, if it’s allowed among the same sex individuals in one state is going to spread to the entire nation. And that’s why it’s important to have a national standard for marriage. And I’m committed to making sure that we reinforce the institution of marriage in this country by insisting that all states have a right to have marriage as defined as between a man and a woman; and we don’t have unelected judges saying we’re going to impose same-sex marriage where it was clearly not in their state constitution.

My state’s constitution was written by John Adams. It isn’t there. I’ve looked. The people need to speak on this issue and make sure that marriage is preserved as between a man and a woman.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida , Oct 21, 2007

Equality for Muslims; but follow hate-preachers into mosques

Q: Arab Americans are feeling a bias after Sept. 11th from their fellow Americans. How would you change that?

A: Well, of course, we remind people that this is a nation that recognizes the equality of all individuals. We also want to make sure that our nation is kept safe. And we’re going to pursue any avenue we have to, to assure that people who might be preaching or teaching doctrines of hate or terror are going to be followed into a church or into a school or a mosque or wherever they might be.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Supported English-only laws but ran Spanish commercials

At the end of the third GOP debate, immigration restrictionist and Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo warned that English needed to be made the official language of the country "to hold us together." Then McCain's rival Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, slickly evaded a question about how he could support English-only laws while also running Spanish-language commercials. McCain, suddenly looking relaxed for the first time in months, said "Governor, muchas gracias," then uncorked a moving extemporaneous speech about the Hispanic names "engraved in black granite" at the Vietnam memorial, and the "green-card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they're willing to risk their lived in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation." Love or hate the immigration bill, it was an inspiring patriotic soliloquy.
Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p. 23 , Oct 9, 2007

1994: Gays ok in Boy Scouts

Here’s a brief review of Romney’s public record on gay rights in his 1994 campaign against Senator Edward Kennedy.
Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 58-59 , Aug 31, 2007

2006: Marriage: I agree with 3000 years of recorded history

On December 14, 2006, Romney said in a National Review Online interview: “Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.

“I agree with 3000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.”

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 60 , Aug 31, 2007

No longer calls Giuliani pro-choice & pro-gay & anti-gun

Q: [to Romney]: You have been drawing contrasts with Mayor Giuliani during this campaign, such as this interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network this spring:
ROMNEY: He is pro-choice & pro-gay marriage & anti-gun, and that’s a tough combination in a Republican primary.
Q: Do you stand by that?

ROMNEY: That was very early in the process, in March. He wasn’t a candidate yet. I think I have a better perspective on his views now. I’d rather let him speak for his own positions. I can tell you that I am pro-life and that I’m opposed to same-sex marriage, and I support the Second Amendment.

GIULIANI: The reality is that I support the Second Amendment. I clearly believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, although I did support domestic partnerships and still do. And [we should] put our emphasis on reducing abortions & increasing the number of adoptions

Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate , Aug 5, 2007

Don’t ask, don’t tell sounds silly, but it’s effective

Q: In 1994 you were quoted as saying that you advocated gays being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military. Do you still feel that way?

ROMNEY: No, actually, when I first heard of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I thought it sounded awfully silly. I didn’t think that would be very effective. And I turned out to be wrong. It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. This is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at down the road. But it does seem to me that we have much bigger issues as a nation we ought to be talking about than that policy right now.

McCAIN: I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. The policy is working. And I am convinced that that’s the way we can maintain this greatest military. Let’s not tamper with them.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Pushed vote on traditional marriage against MA gay marriage

Romney has earned the trust of the pro-marriage network because he has battled against his state’s highest court & its Democratic legislature to return marriage to its traditional definition.

When legislators waited until after the 2006 elections to recess with the intent of killing a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution restoring traditional marriage--an amendment that had been backed by 170,000 signatures & years of lobbying--Romney refused to go quietly. He organized a rally of thousands outside the capitol, blasting the legislators for refusing to allow a vote: “Last week, 109 legislators decided to abandon the constitution and violate their oath of office. For the constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature SHALL vote.”

Romney’s ire was directed not at those legislators who would have voted against allowing the amendment to be on the ballot, but at the 109 lawmakers who refused to allow the vote on the ballot to be held

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.121-23 , Mar 12, 2007

Marriage pre-dates our Constitution & shouldn’t de redefined

On February 5, 2004, Romney wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “One Man, One Woman: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Marriage.” Romney blasted the Massachusetts high court’s reasoning while holding up marriage as a crucial institution:

Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It encompasses many obligations and benefits affecting husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It is the foundation of a harmonious family life. It is the basic building block of society: the development, productivity and happiness of new generations are bound to the family unit. That benefits are given to married couples and not to singles or gay couples has nothing to do with discrimination; it has everything to do with building a stable new generation and nation.

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.129-130 , Mar 12, 2007

Constitutional amendment defining 1-man-1-woman marriage

In 2004, Romney joined the national debate and endorsed a federal marriage amendment in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His statement remains the most complete statement of his beliefs. Excerpts follow:
“Given the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, America faces questions regarding the institution of marriage. Should we abandon marriage as we know it?...

I join with those who support a federal constitutional amendment. Massachusetts has a law that attempts to restrain this infringement by restricting marriages of out-of-state couples to those where no impediment to marry exists in their home state. Even with this law, valid same-sex marriages will migrate to other states. For each state to preserve its own power in relation to marriage, a federal amendment to define marriage is necessary.“

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.130-133 , Mar 12, 2007

Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman

I took a stand against the Massachusetts supreme-court ruling on same-sex marriage. I have made clear since 2003, when the supreme court of Massachusetts redefined marriage by fiat, that my unwavering advocacy for traditional marriage stands side by side with a tolerance and respect for all Americans.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone. The debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.

I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.

Source: RSLevinson.com “All Things Queer”, review of 2008 gay issues , Jan 1, 2007

Opposed gay marriage but played fair and upheld law

In one instance, after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriages, Romney spoke out against the ruling and endorsed constitutional changes, while at the same time he vowed to uphold the law as it was currently fashioned. This has won him the trust of the Democratic voters who are the majority in Massachusetts as they see Romney as playing fairly in a squabble that will ultimately be decided at the voting booths.
Source: 2008 speculation in Beehive Standard Weekly (NV) , Apr 12, 2006

Put gay marriage ban into GOP party platform

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey endorsed a proposed gay-marriage ban, but said the state Republican Party should not change its platform to call for a ban because Republicans are split on the issue.

Currently, the state party platform does not mention same-sex marriage or voter initiatives. By contrast, the Republican National Committee platform supports President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Romney suggested that the GOP put language in the platform endorsing a voter referendum on certain issues [like gay marriage].

The state Democratic Party has voted to endorse gay marriage in its platform. The national Democratic Party does not go that far, but calls for equal benefits for gay couples and condemns a nationwide constitutional ban on gay marriage

Source: Stephanie Ebbert, Boston Globe , Nov 19, 2005

Every child deserves a mother and a father

Throughout our history, when our country needed us, Americans have stepped forward, standing up to every challenge. We step forward by expressing tolerance and respect for all God’s children, regardless of their differences and choices. At the same time, because every child deserves a mother and a father, we step forward by recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Source: 2004 Republican Convention Speech , Sep 1, 2004

Supports benefits for gay partners, but not gay marriage

All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation. While he does not support gay marriage, Mitt Romney believes domestic partnership status should be recognized in a way that includes the potential for health benefits and rights of survivorship.
Source: Campaign web site, www.romney2002.com, “Issues” , Sep 17, 2002

Sexual orientation should not preclude being a Scout

I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.
Source: Peter Gosselin in Boston Globe , Oct 27, 1994

To compete as a nation, draw on skills of women & minorities

Women that I have seen in organizations have not had the opportunity that they deserve to have in getting ahead in organizations. If we are to compete as a nation, we’ve got to draw on the skills of women and minorities. And I have seen organizations from the federal government to corporations that are not drawing on the skills of women and minorities.
Source: MA Senate Debate with Ted Kennedy , Oct 1, 1994

Help women thru glass ceiling by requiring annual reporting

Women are concerned about the glass ceiling. My entire life has been one of working with women and helping women thru the glass ceiling. Public companies and federal agencies should be required in their annual report the number of women & minorities by income category, so we can identify where the glass ceiling is, and we can break through it. The marketplace will say “that company has not promoted women and minorities” and will put pressure on American corporations and agencies to respond.
Source: MA Senate Debate with Ted Kennedy , Oct 1, 1994

Welcome nativity scenes in public places on holidays

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders--in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from ‘the God who gave us liberty.’

Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. American values are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

Source: Speech “Faith In America” at Bush Presidential Library , Dec 6, 2007

Other governors on Civil Rights: Mitt Romney on other issues:
MA Gubernatorial:
Deval Patrick
MA Senatorial:
John Kerry
Scott Brown

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011