Wednesday, December 13, 2006

GOP and Gays -- Is there room in the Inn?

I've been following with some interest the travails of Mitt Romney and the gay rights issue. Romney, being a member of the LDS Church (Mormons), wants to be President and with Conservative Evangelicals making up a sizable and vocal voting block within the GOP he has to show his conservative social credentials if he hopes to win them over to his campaign. Thus, gay rights is a key issue, and as the former governor of a liberal New England state that allows gay marriage, he must show himself to be truly "red state" savvy.

Well he has come out strongly in recent days against gay marriage and has decried the Massachusetts's' Supreme Court decision to allow them in that state. The only problem is that in 1994, in a senatorial campaign against Ted Kennedy he sought out the gay vote and in 2002 his supporters distributed fliers at a Gay Pride parade in Boston offering his support. So, which side is he on? That's what the SBC and Focus on the Family want to know. Are you with us or against us.

Thus, we're at a point where don't ask, don't tell is no longer possible. Oh, it was easier when people lived in the closet, but now the closet is becoming more and more transparent.

The times, they are a changing!

2 comments:

myclob said...

Sunday, December 10, 2006
Romney and Gay Rights, 1994 - 2006
Posted by Dean Barnett | 5:36 PM

It’s a long-forgotten moment, but it was a poignant and revealing one. In the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s discovery of a right to gay marriage that had been long–hidden in the Commonwealth’s John Adams penned constitution, Governor Mitt Romney had vigorously protested both the substantive result and the judicial arrogance that led to the result.

On the day the decision went into effect, dozens of gay couples descended on Massachusetts’ city and town halls to get married. The TV cameras sought out Governor Romney for his response to the day’s events. The media no doubt expected him to toss some red meat to the knuckle-dragging conservatives that Romney was courting in anticipation of a presidential bid. Instead, Romney pleaded that the public and gay marriage critics in particular bear in mind that this was a happy and joyous day for many individuals, and act respectfully and accordingly.

If you saw him deliver that sentiment on the news, you could see it was heartfelt. You could also see that Mitt Romney would not square with the stereotypical (and of course mistaken) view of a gay marriage opponent. He was not a hater and not a homophobe. Rather, he was a decent man who thought the policy of gay marriage was an unwise one and, regardless of the policy’s wisdom, was disappointed in the judicial overreach that brought it into being.

I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THAT MOMENT in recent Romney history while assorted pundits have been trying to sort through the Romney record when it comes to gay rights issues. Of special interest this week is a 1994 interview Romney gave where he was extremely generous on matters of interest to the gay community. Because I was volunteering for him in 1994 and spent considerable time with him, I think I can help shed some light on this latest “scandal.”

When he ran for Senate in ’94 against Ted Kennedy, the opinions of Mitt Romney’s church was a recurring subject of discussion, thanks largely to the efforts of the Boston Globe. One of the things that the theologians at the Globe noticed is that the tenets of Mormonism regarding homosexuality weren’t particularly accepting or tolerant. The Globe kept implicitly pressuring Romney to make the choice – gays or his church. (Oddly, Ted Kennedy’s Catholic faith didn’t trigger any similar demands or curiosity on the Globe’s part.)

Romney spent a solid chunk of the ’94 campaign expressing his tolerance and acceptance for homosexuals. Naturally, nothing he could say in this regard would satisfy his critics. If he didn’t explicitly condemn the teachings of his church, his critics would continue to bray. And bray they did, from practically the first day of his campaign until the last.

It was in this context that Romney made his now-famous comments in a 1994 interview with Bay Windows, a Boston newspaper that caters to the gay community. Among his observations were these:

I feel that as a society and for me as an individual, it’s incumbent on all of us to respect one another, regardless of our differences and beliefs, our differences in sexual orientation, in race and that America has always been a place, and should be a place, to welcome and tolerate people’s differences.

I personally feel and one of my core beliefs is that we should accept people of all backgrounds and recognize everyone as a brother and a sister because we are all part of the family of man.

Fueling the current controversy is the question, How could so vocal a supporter of gay rights in 1994 be such a prominent opponent of gay marriage in 2006?

FORGET THE PART that in the same interview, Romney also said, “Bill Weld does not feel at this time that he wishes to extend legalized marriage on a same-sex basis, and I support his position.” Those looking for a scandal here certainly have.

The question itself regarding Romney’s putatively shifting views suggests Romney has a penchant for flip-flopping with such audacity that John Kerry should be envious. There is, however, an answer to the question and it’s not a particularly complex one. I spent a decent amount of time with Romney in ’94, and got to know him reasonably well. He’s not a hater. He’s not a bigot. He’s not a homophobe. No one who has worked with him or who actually has known him in any capacity says otherwise. And this is a man who has led a prominent and powerful business life.

Romney is also a traditionalist. He does not believe that institutions such as marriage should be mucked with. And he certainly doesn’t believe that such institutions should be playthings for a gaggle of unelected officials who happen to wear black robes for a living.

In other words, his opposition to gay marriage is based on good faith differences with gay marriage proponents regarding where a particular legal line should be drawn. And by good faith, I mean that he arrives at his position not out of hate, bigotry or political calculation, but out of a true sense of moral conviction regarding what is best and noblest for our society.

On where the legal line should be drawn on gay marriage, he and I happen to differ. Unlike Romney, and unlike most of the readers of this site, I have no problem with legalizing gay marriage. But unlike Romney’s critics, I know that the difference is a good faith one, and not the result of those I disagree with making venal calculations or indulging their prejudiced natures.

The preceding is the part that some narrow-minded gay marriage proponents just can’t get. They think that if you’re against gay marriage, you are necessarily a hater and by definition a homophobe. That’s just not so.

Another thing regarding Romney and gay marriage warrants mentioning: This was not a fight he sought. Even given the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s prior reckless disregard for precedent and the democratic process, no one foresaw the SJC discovering a pre-existing right to gay marriage in the Commonwealth’s 220 year old Constitution. Even by the SJC’s own lofty standards for such things, it was a stunning piece of judicial arrogance. In short, it was not part of a Romney master-plan to be the anti-gay marriage candidate.

Critics of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists think the key to winning their support is to be the most-narrow minded and hate-filled candidate in the field. These critics chronically lament the bigotry of these specifically identifiable communities while crudely and cruelly caricaturizing them; it is a perverse credit to these critics that they never betray any sense of irony while doing so.

One of the reasons Mitt Romney will be increasingly successful as more people get to know him is because he is the real deal – Mitt is a good, honest and decent man. And those are far from his only virtues. But those are the virtues that Republicans of all religious and ethnic affiliations hunger for most in their ’08 standard bearer.

myclob said...

* “This is a subject about which people have tender emotions in part because it touches individual lives. It also has been misused by some as a means to promote intolerance and prejudice. This is a time when we must fight hate and bigotry, when we must root out prejudice, when we must learn to accept people who are different from one another. Like me, the great majority of Americans wish both to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and to oppose bias and intolerance directed towards gays and lesbians.”
o Governor Mitt Romney, 06-22-2004 Press Release

* “Preserving the definition of marriage should not infringe on the right of individuals to live in the manner of their choosing. One person may choose to live as a single, even to have and raise her own child. Others may choose to live in same sex partnerships or civil arrangements. There is an unshakeable majority of opinion in this country that we should cherish and protect individual rights with tolerance and understanding. “
o Governor Mitt Romney, 06-22-2004 Press Release

The following is my response to this article in the New York Times about Mitt Romney.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/09/us/politics/09romney.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Governor Mitt Romney and Evangelicals are together on this. They have never tried to advance families with both mothers and fathers by discriminating against gays.

Evangelicals teach that you need to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Evangelicals agree with Romney: you don't advance families with a mother and a father, by allowing gays to be discriminated against in the work place. They are two separate issues. Romney and the majority of conservatives agree that you need to stop bigotry towards gays, and preserve the right for catholic charities to provide houses for needy children, even though they do not give children to gay couples. We should all be able to agree on this.

However the New York Times and Bay Windows don’t want to discuss the gay marriage issue with Mitt Romney, a sophisticated urbanite, with high levels of education, who speaks two languages, has been the head of a multi-national corporation, and worked well with gay rights groups. They don’t want to debate him, because they know that he is in the Majority. They know that he represents the majority of Americans who don’t hate gay people, but that believe that catholic charities aught to be allowed to continue placing children in homes with both a mother and a father. Even the majority of the citizens of Massachusetts think that Catholic Charities and Catholic adoption services should be allowed to operate in Massachusetts.

Bay Windows and the New York Times don’t want to discuss the issue with Romney, because they know the majority of Americans agree with him. They would rather have this be a debate between them, and homophobic-red-neck-gay hating bigots.

They don’t want this to be an issue over what is in the best interest of the children. They want this to be an issue of hate and acceptance, and they want to silence anyone who does not hate, but is still on the side of children’s rights to have both a mother and a father.

They know that if they can make this about hate and acceptance, they will win because they are in the majority. But if they could just get red of Romney, by calling him a hypocrite, and making everyone think he is a hypocritical-panderer, they will win.

They New York Times is not interested in the truth. They are interested in their side winning. They will stoop to character assassination in order to win, but they don’t have a leg to stand on.

David and Adam say the following, “But his emphasis has shifted in the last two years. As he moves into this new phase of his career, Mr. Romney rarely talks about the need to protect gay men and lesbians from bias, instead presenting himself as a conservative stalwart in the fight against same-sex marriage, arguing that legally recognizing same-sex unions endangers the cultural support for heterosexual families.”

This is the biggest load of garbage I have ever heard. Less than two Months ago, in the Biggest Speech of Romney’s life regarding this subject, on October the 16th 2006, Romney said the following:

“In fact, as Americans, I believe that we should show an outpouring of respect and tolerance for all people. I believe God loves all of his children, that no one is abhorred -- that regardless of the differences and different choices, we should show that same respect. As Americans, we must vigorously reject discrimination and bigotry.”

This took me 30 seconds to find. Is that how bad things are there at the New York Times? They are too busy to do 30 seconds of research before they write an article. How humiliating. What an embarrassment. They say Romney doesn’t say anything nice about Gays any more. Do you think that David and Adam will apologize for their character assassination of Governor Romney? No. They just make up stuff, chary out their character assassination, and go on. All that matters is that their side wins. And with all battles, the truth is the first casualty. Well congratulations David and Adam. You must be glad you have a much larger readership than me. You must be glad that hardly anyone knows what liars you are. Do you need more examples of nice things Romney has said about gays in the past two years? How many quotes do you need, until you apologize for saying that his town has changed as he ran for president? How many quotes will it take? I can produce 6 quotes in less than half an hour that show that Romney has been consistent on this issue. Brian and Adam, does the truth matter, or have you already written your play book? The New York Times will eliminate Romney by calling him a hypocrite. We, at the New York Times will repeat this over and over until everyone knows Romney Flip Flopped. Is that the game plan?

ADAM NAGOURNEY and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK of the New York use "Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who had praised Mr. Romney as a champion of traditional values at the group’s conference in late September. “This type of information is going to create a lot of problems for Governor Romney. He is going to have a hard time overcoming this.”

Actually it is Tony Perkins who has some explaining to do. What in Romney’s statements does he disagree with? Does he think that it is alright to discriminate against gays in the workplace? Does Tony Perkins think that it is good for gay people to be hazed, ridiculed and mocked? Tony Perkins is the one who has some explaining to do. What exactly did Mitt Romney say that Tony disagrees with. Tony. You might want to be careful if you want republicans to ever become a majority again, because the majority of people agree with Mitt. We need to not discriminate against gays, but Catholic charities should still be in the business of putting children up for adoption.

Is this quote from Adam or David taken out of context, because WHAT EXACTLY is Mitt Romney going to have to overcome? The belief that people should be treated with respect? Does the New York Times think that this will become an issue with southern voters? The New York times keeps saying that it is Southern Evangelical voters that will not vote for a Mormon, but it is Liberal Democrats, who, according to actual surveys, would never vote for someone who attends a Mormon church on Sunday. The New York Times keeps implying that southern evangelicals who think children deserve both a mother and a father hate gay people. It is liberal people at the New York Times that hate and demonize those that disagree with them.

Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern conservative movement, said: “Unless he comes out with an abject repudiation of this, I think it makes him out to be a hypocrite. And if he totally repudiates this, you have to ask, on what grounds?”

People keep accusing Mitt Romney of Hypocrisy because he dares asserts that we should be nice to gay people but he does not define niceness by putting their rights to have children over the rights of children to have a mother and a father.

“But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”

What is so wrong with this? It is the truth. Romney's dad always said that it hurts to be right too early, but this will not hurt Romney. It is not too early. Everyone knows that southern republicans will not want to listen to Ted Kennedy (the man who has killed more people with his car, than my gun) preach to us about how we need to show gay people respect. But southern republicans will listen to someone who stood up for the right of catholic charities to participate in the adoption process. Southern republicans will listen to a man who thinks the rights of children are more important than the rights of adults, say to them that they need to show respect to gays. We can make this not just be an issue between the parties.

Joseph McCarthy said that communism should not be made an issue between republicans and democrats. He said, and I think this is one of the times he was right, that if we made it a contest between our two great parties, that we will see one of the parties disappear of the face of the earth, and that would be bad for America. The New York Times is trying to make this an issue BETWEEN the parties. They are trying to make it look like everyone in the Republican Party hates gays. This is not the truth. Republicans don't hate gays. Republicans just think the rights of children are more important than the rights of adults.

Most gay people will tell you that they love both their mother and father, and they will tell you that they are glad they had parents representing the two great genders: Women and Men. Let’s not make this an issue between the parties, were one party is assumed to hate gays. If we don’t want the Republican party go away, lets not make this an issue between the parties. We need republicans to stand up with Mitt Romney against bigotry, and for children’s rights.

There is nothing in Romney's statements that a red blooded American who is comfortable with his or her own sexuality has to be embarrassed of. Romney said that both parties should be nice to gays, show them respect, and hire them in the work place.

When he ran for governor in 2002, Romney declared his opposition to both same-sex marriage and civil unions. "Call me old fashioned, but I don't support gay marriage nor do I support civil union," said Romney in an October 2002 gubernatorial debate. He also voiced support for basic domestic partnership benefits for gay couples.

These people at the New York Times are some of the stupidest people I have ever read. They say stupid stuff, like Romney is a hypocrite without giving any example of hypocrisy, and they say that he doesn’t talk about equality any more, when it took me 30 seconds to find a great quote that shows how consistent Romney has been.

Once again let me provide the quote from less than 2 months ago. On October the 16th 2006, Romney said the following:

“In fact, as Americans, I believe that we should show an outpouring of respect and tolerance for all people. I believe God loves all of his children, that no one is abhorred -- that regardless of the differences and different choices, we should show that same respect. As Americans, we must vigorously reject discrimination and bigotry.”