Mitt Romney is generally considered the most conservative of the three leading Republican presidential contenders (the other two, of course, being John McCain and Rudy Giuliani). But a Massachusetts gay newspaper accuses Romney of having “a secret gay history,” by which it means that he has taken some political positions sympathetic to gay rights.
Other socially conservative Republicans may view the matter differently (and, as I note below, appear already to do so), but I don’t see much in the article that concerns me. In 1994, running for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, he promised that he would support “full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens” and do so more effectively (given his “mainstream” credentials) than Kennedy could. Romney does not seem to have meant by this that he supported gay marriage; however, he did provide gays with some reason to believe he might do so. According to the article, when Romney was asked whether he supported same-sex marriage, he answered, “I am sure [Gov. Weld] will study it and evaluate it and I will endorse his position on that.” Assuming the accuracy of this account, it speaks poorly of Romney that he would defer to Weld or anyone else on this issue, and the statement appears to be a dodge. In any case, when Weld eventually came out in favor of the same-sex marriage, Romney did not follow suit. Instead, he has been a leading voice on the other side of the issue. And statements he made as a church leader in 1993 indicate that he did not support same-sex marriages back then either. Moreover, as a candidate for governor of ultra-liberal Massachusetts in 2002, Romney told gay rights activists that he opposed same-sex marriages although, according to the article, some of the activists did not take him to mean he was inexorably opposed.
On the issue of the admission of gays to the Boy Scouts, Romney said, as a candidate in 1994, that “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.” However, he also expressed his personal view that “all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” I can’t find major fault with Romney on either score.
With respect to gays in the military, Romney said in 1994 that he supported President Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He went on to predict that this would be
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