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With President Barack Obama's change of position on gay marriage -- which earned a Full Flop on our Flip-O-Meter -- we thought it was a good time to take a fresh look at Mitt Romney's position on the same issue.
Shortly after Obama’s announcement, Romney was pressed about his own stance on same-sex marriage. In each case, he offered similar answers.
At a campaign event in Oklahoma City, reporters asked Romney to clarify his position. "My view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman. That’s my own preference, and I know other people have differing views. This is a very tender and sensitive topic," he said. Romney added that he believes states should be able to decide whether to offer certain legal rights to same-sex couples, according to the Associated Press.
Later, Romney told KETV-TV in Omaha that,"as a society, I think we’re better off if we encourage the establishment of homes with a mother and a father." Same-sex marriage, he said, isn’t "appropriate and needed for a strong society."
Meanwhile, in an interview with KDVR-TV in Denver, Romney said, "I don't favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is that domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights and the like are appropriate, but the others are not."
Finally, in a commencement address at Liberty University on May 12, Romney said that American values, "may become topics of democratic debate from time to time. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."
We wondered whether the opposition to same-sex marriage that Romney offered in the wake of Obama’s announcement represented a change in views. So we put it to the Flip-O-Meter.
We’ll start by noting that the Flip-O-Meter rates politicians' consistency on particular topics from No Flip to Full Flop. The meter is not intended to pass judgment on their decisions to change their minds. It’s simply gauging whether they did.
As we wrote in 2007, Romney took a relatively liberal approach on gay rights during his 1994 Senate race against liberal Democratic icon Edward M. Kennedy.
During his Senate race, Romney wrote a letter to the Massachusetts branch of the Log Cabin Republicans, which read in part, "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent." He promised the group that he would support laws preventing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace and implied his hope for the eventual full integration of gays in the military, a policy that was ultimately approved 16 years later.
A lengthy interview with Romney in Bay Windows, a Boston-area gay newspaper, was headlined, "Romney: I'll be better than Ted for gay rights."
But despite making policy overtures to gay voters, Romney consistently drew the line at gay marriage, even as far back as 1994.
When Romney was asked by Bay Windows, "Would you support legalized marriage for gay men and lesbians?" Romney responded, "I line up with (moderate Massachusetts Republican Gov. William) Weld on that, and it's a state issue as you know -- the authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction. My understanding is that he has looked at the issue and concluded that certain benefits and privileges should be offered to gay couples and lesbian couples. But he does not feel at this time that he wishes to extend legalized marriage on a same-sex basis, and I support his position."
Then, in 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court opened the doors to same-sex marriage in the state, Romney supported a constitutional amendment that would have banned the practice.
Romney maintained his opposition to same-sex marriage during the 2008 Republican presidential primary campaign, saying at one Iowa event that he’s fought same-sex marriage "every way I have known how to, and the fight isn’t over," according to the New York Times.
In a Sept. 14, 2007 interview on MSNBC, Romney said, "I have not changed my position on the marriage amendment or anything else related to marriage." We have found nothing to contradict this view. While Romney in 1994 offered relatively liberal views on some policies of importance to gay voters, he never went so far as to support same-sex marriage. In fact, he spoke out against the idea -- and took actions to stem it while governor. Romney has been consistent on this. No Flip.
ABC News, "Transcript: Robin Roberts ABC News Interview With President Obama," May 9, 2012
PolitiFact, "President Barack Obama's shifting stance on gay marriage," May 11, 2012
Fox News, "Mitt Romney Responds to President Obama’s Support of Gay Marriage," May 9, 2012
Associated Press, "Romney stays firm on opposition to gay marriage," May 9, 2012
USA Today, "Romney opposes civil unions 'identical to marriage,'" May 9, 2012
KETV, "Romney talks economy, health care in Omaha," May 11, 2012
Wall Street Journal, "Romney Demurs on Gay Marriage," May 11, 2012
New York Times, "Romney Tells Evangelicals Their Values Are His, Too," May 12, 2012
PolitiFact, "Consistent on gay marriage, not on amendment," Oct. 5, 2007
Mitt Romney, letter to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, Oct. 6, 1994
Bay Windows, "Romney: I'll be better than Ted for gay rights," Aug 25, 1994
New York Times, "Romney’s Tone on Gay Rights Is Seen as Shift," Sept. 8, 2007
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