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Romney’s most recent denial of LGBT support latest in decades-long flip-flop

by Hannah Clay Wareham
Thursday Jan 12, 2012
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A former intern for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says that contradictory to the camp’s statements, the former Massachusetts governor did authorize flyers in 2002 that championed LGBT rights. The conflict is only the most recent in decades of both endorsement and criticism of legalized same-sex marriage, DADT, and other equal rights efforts.

The Manhattan Institute’s Josh Barro told BuzzFeed that "a full-time staffer" organized the dissemination of pink flyers stating Romney’s support for LGBT equal rights. On Jan. 8, one of Romney’s campaign spokesmen told The Huffington Post that the fliers were not campaign literature, despite the fact that "Paid for by the Romney for Governor Committee" was printed on the bottom of each flyer.

"I don’t know where those pink flyers came from. I was the communications director on the 2002 campaign. I don’t know who distributed them. ...I never saw them and I was the communications director," Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s chief spokesman, told The Huffington Post.

Barro told BuzzFeed that, "On pride weekend, the campaign sent a contingent of about a half-dozen of us to the post-parade festival on Boston Common to hand out those flyers."

In addition to denying knowledge of the flyers, Fehrnstorm also said that Romney had never supported civil union rights for same-sex couples.

"He has not been in favor of civil unions, if by civil unions you mean the equivalency to marriage but without the name marriage. What he has favored, and he talked about this, I believe, last night, was a form of domestic partnership or a contractual relationship with reciprocal benefits," Fehrnstorm said.

Romney has come under fire during his bid for the presidency for having apparently contradicted his stance on legalized same-sex marriage, among other issues.

"Basically I see the provision of basic civil rights and domestic partnership benefits [as] a campaign against [then-House Speaker] Tom Finneran. I see Tom Finneran and the Democratic leadership as having opposed the application of domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian couples and I will support and endorse efforts to provide those domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian couples," Romney told Bay Windows in an interview published Oct. 24, 2002.

In a 1994 letter written to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Club during his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Kennedy, Romney pledged to be a hero for the LGBT community. An October Bay Windows article from that same year credits Romney with the following: "For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent’s record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will."

"I respect all people regardless of their differences," Romney told Bay Windows in 1994. "There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. ...I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican party and I would be a voice in the Republican party to foster anti-discrimination efforts."

Ten years later, while serving as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney backed a state constitutional amendment that would have banned legal recognition of same-sex marriage, albeit allowed civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Following the state’s legalization of marriage equality, Romney pulled from the annals of Bay State history a 1913 law barring out-of-state couples from tying the knot in the state -- a law originally designed to block interracial couples hailing from states that banned interracial marriage from marrying in Massachusetts. In 2005, Romney threw his weight behind a petition effort driven by the politically conservative Coalition for Marriage & Family that would have banned legalized same-sex marriage, and did not offer civil unions. In 2004 and again in 2006, Romney urged the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of and make law the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned same-sex marriage on the federal level. The amendment failed in 2006.

The Republican presidential hopeful’s back and forth on LGBT rights hasn’t been missed by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters -- nor has it been missed by his GOP opponents.

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer referred to Romney as a "non-starter," Right Wing Watch reported in December, referring to an interview Romney gave the Des Moines Register in which he said he was no longer opposed to a repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly. "If evangelical Christians simply vote their values, there is simply no way they can cast a vote for someone who is in favor of legitimizing homosexual behavior in the military. ...In the GOP field, there are just two candidates who support the presence of sexual deviancy in our armed forces: Mitt Romney and Ron Paul."

Former GOP opponent Michele Bachmann (she recently dropped out of the presidential race after bombing in the Iowa caucuses) accused Romney of being "confused" about his values.

"Mitt Romney has defended gay marriage and even signed marriage licenses for same-sex couples," the Minnesota legislator said in Iowa, pledging that she’d defend and protect "marriage and family" if elected.

Most recently, Romney won big in New Hampshire primaries, finishing with 39.4 percent of the vote in a state currently divided over its law legalizing same-sex marriage. The contentious debate over a possible repeal of said law is expected to take center stage in state and New England politics this year.

Copyright Bay Windows. For more articles from New England's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.baywindows.com

This article is part of our "Election 2012" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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