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Romney Opposed Gay Rights in Massachusetts | The Nation

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Ben Adler

Ben Adler

 The 2012 election, Republican politics and conservative media.

Romney Opposed Gay Rights in Massachusetts

Mitt Romney was against gay adoption before he was for it. Recent reporting from his home state of Massachusetts shows that during his term as governor, Romney opposed many popular gay rights causes. Romney opposed anti-bullying efforts, adoption rights for gays and efforts to prevent hate crimes. When lobbied by gay rights groups he was unwilling to engage. When urged to reconsider by his own state officials, he refused to listen to reason.

As I reported last week, the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Romney, claiming he is a relative moderate on gay rights. When I pressed their executive director on how Romney’s policies differ from those of homophobes who LCR would have declined to endorse, such as Rick Santorum, one of the examples he cited was Romney’s support for gay adoption.

It turns out that in May, just a day after Romney declared qualified gays’ ability to adopt children “a right,” he reversed himself and said it is up to the states and he simply acknowledges that virtually every state allows it. But, even then, he was sure to note that Massachusetts has long allowed gay adoption and he believes that is correct.

But when he was governor, Romney was scandalized and disgusted by the thought of gays forming families. In 2003, Romney refused to make a small change to Massachusetts birth certificates to accommodate the families of gay couples. As Murray Waas reported Thursday the The Boston Globe:

It seemed like a minor adjustment. To comply with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in 2003, the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics said it needed to revise its birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The box for “father” would be relabeled “father or second parent,’ reflecting the new law.

But to then-Governor Mitt Romney, who opposed child-rearing by gay couples, the proposal symbolized unacceptable changes in traditional family structures.

He rejected the Registry of Vital Records plan and insisted that his top legal staff individually review the circumstances of every birth to same-sex parents. Only after winning approval from Romney’s lawyers could hospital officials and town clerks across the state be permitted to cross out by hand the word “father’’ on individual birth certificates, and then write in “second parent,’’ in ink.

In addition to needlessly stigmatizing the children of gay couples, Romney imposed a cumbersome bureaucratic process. So much for his self-proclaimed mission to infuse government with efficiencies derived from his business acumen. Romney, in a remarkable display of ideology trumping competent governance, persisted with the policy throughout his term, despite being warned by the state department of health that, “Crossouts and handwritten alterations constituted ‘violations of existing statutes’’ and harmed ‘the integrity of the vital record-keeping system.’” He also ignored warnings that children with these birth certificates could face difficulties with processes such as applying for passports, driver’s licenses or joining the military.

Romney’s office generally granted the requests to cross out father and write in second parent. However, they refused, on at least one occasion, to list the mother’s spouse as “wife,” calling her instead “second parent.” They also refused to list a mother’s female partner at all if the couple was not married.

This is not the only area in which Romney would not listen to reason on gay rights. Boston Spirit magazine published an investigation of Romney’s dealings with gay rights activists. They were frustrated to find that he not only opposed their positions—for example, he backed a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and opposed even civil unions—but that he was completely uninterested in engaging with them or thinking critically about the issues. The Spirit reports:

Julie Goodridge and other plaintiffs in the landmark case [for gay marriage rights] had written a letter to the governor, asking for a meeting. He ignored it, so they staged a press conference at his office to read the letter to the media. That, finally, got them through his door. Once inside, they were shocked.

For about 20 frustrating minutes, say those in attendance who Boston Spirit interviewed recently, they shared their stories, pled their case, and tried to explain how equal marriage would protect them and their families. Romney sat stone-faced and almost entirely silent.…

“I didn’t know you had families,” remarked Romney to the group, according to Wilson. The offhanded remark underscored that Romney, the governor of the first state prepared to grant same-sex marriage, hadn’t taken the time to look at what the landmark case was really about.

Romney also opposed even the most minor and unobjectionable efforts to protect gays, even children, from violence and bullying. He abolished the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. He defunded the Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes and tried to remove the words “bisexual” and “transgender” from passages in a state anti-bullying guide.

It seems that the Log Cabin Republicans have backed an ardently anti–gay rights presidential candidate.

For more on Romney’s dismal record on LGBT issues, check out “Romney Flails on Gay Rights.”

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