Questions About Romney’s Position On Gay Rights Trigger A Mixed Record

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that former Governor Mitt Romney tried to dodge questions about gay rights during an appearance in Utah, just days after “strong statements by a leader of his LDS faith that same-sex attraction is ‘impure and unnatural.’” Romney said he wouldn’t “delve into matters of faith and my religion and doctrines of my church” in the public arena, but reiterated his position on the issue:

“I fully support the rights of gay individuals to choose their course in life, their careers in life, to have civil rights that are consistent with other citizens of the nation,” Romney said. “As you know, I support traditional marriage. I believe that it is in the best interest of society, and at the same time I fully support the rights of gay individuals and homosexuals.”

Romney has consistently opposed expanding marriage to gays and lesbians, while paradoxically insisting that he supports equal rights for everyone. And he has tailored that massage to please his shifting audiences. During his failed 1994 campaign for the Senate, for instance, Romney told the Log Cabin Republicans, “We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” promised to co-sponsor the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and even claimed that he would do more for the gay community than Ted Kennedy. “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,” Romney said. He did, however, reiterate his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: “One issue I want to clarify concerns [grammar in context] President Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” military policy. I believe that the Clinton compromise was a step in the right direction. I am also convinced that it is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.”

In his 2002 campaign for governor, Romney struck a similar note, saying that “all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation” and argued that “domestic partnership status should be recognized in a way that includes the potential for health benefits and rights of survivorship.” His campaign even sent out a “Happy Pride” flier to the gay community.


Shortly thereafter, Romney began emphasizing his opposition to marriage, however, reiterating traditional conservative talking points about how same-sex unions would negatively effect children. In June 2004, Romney testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of a federal marriage amendment and later sent a letter to Congress asking it to act. In 2007, asked if he supported a national constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Romney said, “Boy, I sure do. You know, that’s a topic that’s really, I think, very important to the country because marriage is not just about adults. Marriage is about the development and nurturing of kids, and in my view, the development of a child is enhanced by having a mom and dad.”