“All people deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”
2. 1994 Bay Windows interview:
1994 Bay Windows interview: “I’ll be better than Ted for gay rights.”
BW: Do you support the federal lesbian and gay civil rights bill that would ban anti-gay discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit?
MR: This is Barney Frank’s legislation?
BW: This is not just employment, but also housing, public accommodations and credit.
MR: I am not fully aware of that bill, so I would need to study that more fully. I am aware of the legislation that Barney Frank proposed [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] and do support that and would vote in favor of that.
I also, philosophically, support efforts to ban discrimination in housing. The particulars of the bill you’re speaking about I have not studied, so I shouldn’t state a position. Philosophically, I support efforts to remove discrimination from the workplace, from housing, from education and so forth.
BW: Are you in favor of lifting the military ban against gay men and lesbians and do you agree with President Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy?
MR: I think the position which President Clinton reached with the concurrence of [Gen.] Colin Powell was a fair compromise and a good step and I support that. I would be surprised if it stops there. I believe that there will be change over time as the military establishment and the rank-and-file become more comfortable with the realities of sexual orientation in the military. I will support progress being made in that area as time progresses and the military and society becomes more accepting.
BW: It’s another state issue, but what about condom distribution in schools?
MR: Here again, you’ll hear me saying the same thing on a number of issues, there are choices I think should be made at the state and local level that I don’t like the federal government getting into. I like important moral decisions being made closest to where people live, at the state and local level. So if the community feels that condom distribution is a helpful thing, then that community should be able to do that. And if another community feels that’s something they don’t support, then they should have the right to do that, as well.
BW: Why should the gay community support your campaign when Ted Kennedy has been a strong supporter of civil rights issues and the gay community?
MR: Well, I think you’re partially right in characterizing Ted Kennedy as supportive of the gay community, and I respect the work and the efforts he’s made on behalf of the gay community and for civil rights more generally, and I would continue that fight.
There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as a centrist and a moderate. It’s a little like if Eugene McCarthy was arguing in favor of recognizing China, people would have called him a nut. But when Richard Nixon does it, it becomes reasonable. When Ted says it, it’s extreme; when I say it, it’s mainstream.
I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican party and I would be a voice in the Republican party to foster anti-discrimination efforts.
1994 Letter to the Log Cabin Republicans: “As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.”
2002 Bay Windows Questionnaire.
BW: Do you support the Protection of Marriage Amendment?
MR: No, because it would outlaw domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
BW: If an initiative petition passed (on the ballot) that prohibited gays and lesbians from enjoying certain rights (like a Protection of Marriage Act or a repeal of the gay and lesbian civil rights law), would you support overturning that decision in the following legislative session? Or would you let the voters’ decision stand even if it denied gays and lesbians their rights?
MR: I would do everything in my power as Governor to educate the public on the need to fight discrimination of any kind.
2003 Mitt Romney calls for civil unions legislation in response to legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts.
“Gov. Mitt Romney told reporters that he believed a civil unions statute would “be sufficient” to satisfy the justices’ concerns. Joining Romney in the call for civil union legislation was Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty, chairman of the House’s Committee on the Judiciary.”