WISCONSIN — Former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a Wisconsin town hall audience on Monday that he now supports the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, even though he still opposes marriage equality.
Confronted by an audience member about his anti-LGBT voting record — Ryan earned a “zero percent” score on gay rights from the Human Rights Campaign — the House Budget Committee chairman admitted that gays and lesbians could provide a loving home to “orphans.” In 1999, Ryan voted against adoption for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, but said he would vote differently today:
RYAN: Adoption, I’d vote differently these days. That was I think a vote I took in my first term, 1999 or 2000. I do believe that if there are children who are orphans who do not have a loving person or couple I think if a person wants to love and raise a child they ought to be able to do that. Period. I would vote that way. I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, we just respectfully disagree on that issue.
Ryan’s opposition to marriage equality actually makes less sense given his support for same-sex adoption. One of the primary arguments against same-sex marriage is the false claim that children are better off with opposite-sex parents. Now it seems he supports allowing same-sex families to raise children, but he still opposes providing those families with the same legal protections afforded to opposite-sex parents.
During the town hall, Ryan also highlighted his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The measure has been introduced in Congress almost every session since 1994, through Ryan initially lobbied to weaken ENDA so it did not include gender identity, and ultimately voted for the weakened version in 2007. Ryan did not say if he would support the more inclusive bill in this Congress.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney argued that adoption “should be assessed on a state-by-state basis.”