By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Romney’s homosexual agenda

Bay Windows has posted a copy of the letter that would-be presidential candidate Mitt Romney wrote during his 1994 Senate campaign to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts.

In the letter, Romney claimed he would be an even better senator for gay and lesbian interests than Ted Kennedy. “If we are to achieve the goals we share,” Romney wrote, “we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”

Here’s how Romney described Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy: “I believe that the Clinton compromise was a step in the right direction. I am also convinced that it is the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being allowed to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.”

The New York Times reports on the letter today in an article that includes quotes from such right-wing figures as Tony Perkins and Paul Weyrich expressing their dismay with Romney.

But as Bay Windows editor Susan Ryan-Vollmar observes, the letter “was widely reported on at the time.” Why Romney thought he could ever fool the Christian right into believing he had always been an ally is a mystery.

Interestingly, the Romney revelations (re-revelations?) coincide with a cover story (sub. req.) in The New Republic about the only other religious-right presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Like Romney, Brownback comes off as someone who, a dozen years ago, held distinctly more moderate views than he does today. Unlike Romney, Brownback appears to have undergone a sincere religious conversion, from mainline Protestant to evangelical Christian and, finally, to devout Catholic.

Romney, on the other hand, is trying to claim that his Mormon faith makes his views one with those of the religious right. Never mind that his mother, also a Mormon, appears to have been pro-choice. Never mind that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, among the best-known Mormon politicians in the country, favors embryonic-stem-cell research, which Romney does not.

And never mind that Romney himself, in his first run for office, portrayed himself as pro-choice and as a staunch supporter of what the religious right likes to denounce as “the homosexual agenda.”

For connoisseurs of political hypocrisy in its purest form, the Romney letter is gold. But have his presidential hopes been destroyed?

Not necessarily. The number-one issue for gay men and lesbians today is same-sex marriage, which Romney can claim never to have supported. Marriage equality was barely on the radar in 1994. Even when he ran for governor in 2002, it had not quite attained critical mass. So he’ll try to thread the needle, saying he supports gay and lesbian equality but not marriage.

Will religious-right voters buy it? It’s hard to say. But Romney had certainly better hope he’s not on record supporting, say, civil unions.

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  1. SolShine7

    I was under the impression that he was more of a straight-shooter. I guess I was wrong.

  2. Bill Baar

    Our Sen Dick Durbin was pro life then switched to pro choice after a few years in the Senate.Pols change their minds.

  3. Anonymous

    Mitt has pretty consistently said he opposed civil union, even though Mitt supported a compromise bill in Massachusetts a few years ago that would legalize civil unions as an alternative to same sex marriage. Mitt made it clear at the time that he would prefer to ban both. Mitt, however, has been on record in the past as supporting domestic partnership laws that would give same sex couples some of the same rights as married couples. None of this would be a big deal, except that Mitt’s only hope to secure the Republican nomination is if he can lock up the evangelical vote. McCain and Giuliani are both more popular than Romney with other segments of the party.

  4. Steve

    re bill’s comment: I can respect a politician who has a sincere change of views on an issue, and can explain the reasoning that led to the change. Romney’s shifting stance on homosexual issues appears to be sheer political calculation, though. I’ve never heard him give a credible rationalization for the shift beyond reasons of political expediency.That said, I really couldn’t care less. Romney needs to convince the Republican religious extremists (which certainly leaves me out) in order to have any chance of ever becoming president. Those chances are slim to none, no matter how pretty and slick he is.

  5. mike_b1

    Isn’t it obvious, steve? He was for it before he was against it.

  6. Chris Estrada

    I’d say if this story gathers enough momentum, it won’t matter if he tries to thread the needle. His presidential aspirations will be fried.

  7. Paul

    Oh the meanderings of politician’s political philosophies ! And to what purpose we may ask !

  8. Ron Newman

    Under Mitt Romney’s administration, Republicans lost seats in two successive legislative elections, and all statewide offices. They now hold less than 1/8 of the seats in the state legislature. With that record, why would any Republican want him to become President?

  9. o-fish-l

    Nationally, the voters especially those who will vote in the Republican primaries, are well aware that in order to get elected in ultra-liberal Massachusetts, a Republican must say and do certain things that he/she might not say or do otherwise. Folks across the country will be grateful and proud that Romney carried the Republican standard here for as long as he did, going back to the courageous 1994 race against Ted Kennedy. What’s most important is where Mitt stands today, and frankly I agree with him now more than ever and I will be voting in the MA Republican primary. Historically there has always been room to “evolve” on the religious issues. Who can forget the young, pro-life Al Gore?Romney won’t suffer the same disastrous fate as John Kerry as far as “flip-flopping.” Kerry, from his family name change to false claims in the Congressional record of being Irish, and false claims of being in Cambodia as a US Navy officer, set a noticeable pattern of being (as the kids say today) “shady”. This was long before the self-immolation of “I actually did vote for the $86 billion, before I voted against it.” I’ve been represented by both, and Romney is no John Kerry. That’s a good thing.

  10. mike_b1

    Years ago, I edited a book that looked at national elections leading up to Bush I. And lo and behold, Bush was stunned to learn that people expected him to fulfill his “No New Taxes” campaign pledge. As I recall, he said something to the effect of “that’s just what you say to get elected.” Nothing better personified his failure to get re-elected.Unfortunately for the Republicans, the environment that allowed that approach to perpetuate all these years has turned. It’s doubtful it will swing back in just two years, and as long as Hillary runs, the Republicans are toast: they’ve never come up with a guy who could beat Carville.More to the point, you had better vote for Romney in the primary, because you’ll never get the chance to do so in the general election. Do you really think the party of Limbaugh, Graham, Falwell and Robertson would nominate a Mormon?Enjoy your day!

  11. o-fish-l

    “More to the point, you had better vote for Romney in the primary, because you’ll never get the chance to do so in the general election. Do you really think the party of Limbaugh, Graham, Falwell and Robertson would nominate a Mormon?”Sure we’ll vote for a Mormon if he is the best candidate. The party of J.C. Watts, Michael Steele, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Ed Brooke et al doesn’t discriminate. Underestimate Romney at your own peril. Does “front-runner” Shannon O’Brien ring a bell? Hopefully Hilary too will offer to show her tramp-stamp, er tatoo.

  12. mike_b1

    Keep saying that. None of the persons who mentioned, save Watts (an ex football star, so he’s considered “safe” by the Republican establishment) has ever been elected to a federal post outside of Massachussetts. And Watts is no longer in office.Read my lips: There is no way the South votes for a man who wears monogrammed undies to bed. And if you can’t win the South, you can’t win the GOP primary.You have voted for Romney for the last time.You’re right on one thing: We did underestimate Romney and it was at our own peril. He screwed us as hard as he does his 9 wives.Have a nice day!

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