Romney Campaign Clarifies, Still Supports Federal Marriage Amendment

UPDATED: Senior campaign adviser Bay Buchanan said last week that the candidate supports states’ choices. This afternoon, though, she told BuzzFeed he still supports the amendment proposal. posted on

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

A top Romney adviser disavowed remarks and a position reported this past week that appeared to be a reversal of the campaign’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would bar states from allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Although campaign officials did not respond to inquiries prior to publication, Bay Buchanan issued a clarification to BuzzFeed this afternoon following initial publication of this story, writing, “Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the Tenth Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits – not marriage.”

In a little-noted comment in the spin room following this past week’s presidential debate in New York, Romney campaign senior adviser Bay Buchanan, the sister of former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, told The Advocate’s Julie Bolcer, “He very much supports traditional marriage, but he’s also a very strong advocate for the Tenth Amendment. It’s a state issue.”

The report also stated that when asked about how Romney’s opposition to same-sex couples’ marriage rights, including his support for the Defense of Marriage Act, would help same-sex parents, “Buchanan responded that Romney would not get in the way of what states decide to do on marriage and adoption.”

Earlier in the election cycle, Romney was one of several Republican candidates to sign a pledge put forward by the National Organization for Marriage in 2011 that included support for “[s]ending a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman to the states for ratification.”

In the closing month of the presidential race, the Romney campaign has pushed forward with a focus on an image of their candidate as a moderate, including discussion of his time as governor of Massachusetts and running television advertisements highlighting his support for exceptions allowing for abortion in the case of rape or incest or for the health of the mother.

Although President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden support same-sex couples’ right to marry, the decision to stop supporting the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment would have been a moderating move for the Romney campaign, whose party platform includes support for the amendment.

Both Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, have never before suggested that they have an altered position on the proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage throughout the country to one man and one woman. The amendment, which failed to secure the necessary support in earlier congressional votes in 2004 and 2006, is considered a longshot at this point, and it’s possible that the campaign has decided that abandoning support for the amendment will cost little in terms of conservative support while increasing his moderate credentials.

In April of this year, however, the National Organization for Marriage’s chairman, John Eastman, said he expected no such change.

“Governor Romney has signed our pledge where he will defend the Defense of Marriage Act, where he will support an amendment to protect traditional marriage nationwide,” he told a conservative radio host Steve Deace. “He has signed that pledge and we fully expect that he will honor his pledge in that regard.”

Multiple Romney campaign officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. Buchanan, for her part, appeared earlier this month as the featured guest at a “Unity” event in support of the Romney campaign held by GOProud, the conservative gay group. The group is the only gay group to have endorsed the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Log Cabin Republicans, another gay Republican organization, has not yet made a decision whether to endorse in the race. In the past two presidential elections, the group has cited support for or opposition to the amendment is a prominent part of its endorsement process.

[NOTE: This story was updated at 5:45 p.m. to reflect a clarification issued by Romney campaign senior adviser Bay Buchanan.]

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