Mitt Romney’s campaign seemed to flip-flop last week on whether he supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, but the convoluted clarification demonstrated that his positions on the issue are purely political and as insensitive as ever.
After last week’s debate, campaign senior adviser Bay Buchanan told The Advocate that Romney opposes marriage equality, but that “it’s a state issue” and that Romney “would not get in the way of what states decide to do on marriage and adoption.” As Buzzfeed pointed out, this seemed very much to conflict with the candidate’s pledge to pass a federal marriage amendment and institute a three-tier system, allowing married same-sex couples to stay married, but not new couples to get married. Buchanan clarified on Saturday that Romney does still support such an amendment:
BUCHANAN: Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the Tenth Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits — not marriage.
There is precedent for Romney’s support for hospital visitation, though his support for same-sex adoption is less consistent, particularly given his past comments that “children pay the price” of marriage equality. But as The New Civil Rights Movement and Talk About Equality have pointed out, there is something actually quite jarring about the fact that he considers hospital visitation a “benefit,” with no concern if states choose not to offer it. It’s quite unclear whether such a “benefit” would even be constitutional if Romney were successful in advancing a federal marriage amendment. Besides, states like New Jersey have shown that in the absence of the title of “marriage,” hospitals are quite reluctant to honor same-sex relationships regardless of what separate-but-equal substitute recognition is offered.
Entrusting a loved one to make crucial medical decisions and be by your side in emergencies should never be something up for states to decide. Romney clearly doesn’t have families in mind — he just wants to appeal to both conservatives and moderates by having no discernible position at all.