Six Questions For Mitt Romney Regarding LGBT Equality

Our guest bloggers are Crosby Burns, Research Associate, and Jeff Krehely, Vice President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund

Just last year Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney claimed: “I favor gay rights.” But as CAP Action has thoroughly documented before, Mitt Romney has been a stalwart opponent of marriage equality and civil unions, would oppose a federal workplace nondiscrimination law for LGBT workers, and has a history of halting anti-bullying initiatives as governor.

For policies related to relationship recognition, workplace equality, and bullying, we can be fairly certain that Mitt Romney does not, in fact, fully favor gay rights. However, for other LGBT issues Romney has either remained silent or offered vague support for laws and policies that level the playing field for these Americans and their families.

To see if Romney has any clear policy positions that back up his bold claim of supporting gay rights, CAP Action released an issue brief asking the candidate to answer the following six questions:

  1. What policies would you support to help workers with same-sex partners legally access the same benefits as workers who are married to someone of the opposite sex? Mitt Romney has offered vague support for extending benefits to employees with same-sex partners. What benefits would Mitt Romney support extending and which would he not? Would he sign into law bills passed by Congress that extend the full range of existing benefits that are currently afforded to federal employees’ opposite-sex spouses but not to federal employees with same-sex partners?
  2. As president, which policies would you and your administration (if any) support to help end workplace discrimination against LGBT workers? Mitt Romney opposes laws like ENDA, which would make it a federal crime to discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But he has stated that he is personally supportive of nondiscrimination in the workplace. Does that mean he would issue an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees?
  3. Would you halt or continue the Pentagon’s current efforts to extend benefits to members of the military with same-sex partners? Despite the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gay service members with same-sex partners do not have access to the same kind of workplace benefits afforded to straight service men and women. The Pentagon is currently reviewing which benefits it can legally extend to service members with same-sex partners. Would Mitt Romney halt those efforts in their tracks, or would he work to ensure all service members are treated equally under the law, gay or straight?
  4. Would you use your power as president to help end the rampant bullying of LGBT youth in our country’s schools? Mitt Romney has an ambiguous past as governor with respect to anti-bullying efforts. Does Mitt Romney support strong federal laws such as the Student Nondiscrimination Act or the Safe Schools Initiative Act that would give a much needed lifeline to our country’s LGBT youth?
  5. Do you support laws that expand or restrict same-sex couples’ ability to adopt children? Mitt Romney has been particularly vague with respect to adoption, noting that same-sex couples have a “legitimate interest” in doing so and that he is “fine” with same-sex couples. But one day later he quickly backtracked those comments to note that he “simply acknowledges” that same-sex couples can adopt in certain states. Given these confusing statements, which public policies related to same-sex couples adopting children would President Romney support or oppose?
  6. 6. Would you continue Obama Administration policies and programs that promote the rights and equality of LGBT people internationally? Late last year, President Obama took a major step to help advance LGBT rights abroad by issuing a memorandum directing all federal agencies to ensure their foreign assistance programs “promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.” Would Romney build off President Obama’s work to ensure foreign aid is used to advance the rights of LGBT people abroad, or would he end those efforts altogether?

If the GOP’s official policy platform informs Mitt Romney’s worldview—which as the head of his party it almost certainly does—then we probably know that Mitt Romney supports few actual laws or policies that would level the playing field for LGBT people. The GOP’s policy platform, for example, accuses the Obama administration of advancing a “homosexual rights agenda” abroad. It outlines policies intended to roll back rather than advance equality for gay service members.

For all his talk, we still have heard little from Mitt Romney when it comes to actual laws and policies that would reflect his statement that he “favor[s] gay rights.” If he actually supports gay rights, will he disown his party’s platform with respect to LGBT issues? Or will he continue to embrace the anti-gay values his party stands for? Unfortunately for LGBT Americans and their families, it appears that for the time being the latter triumphs over the former for Mitt Romney.