No Flip-Flop Here – The Man’s Just Not That Into LGBT Folks

{Editor’s note:  This is the 100th post on the gar spot.}

On April 29, the Los Angeles Times published an article which chronicles then-Governor Mitt Romney’s history with Massachusetts’ gay marriage law.  It makes for very interesting reading.

While campaigning for the governorship in 2002, he proclaimed he supported the rights of gay and lesbian citizens in Massachusetts, while at the same time stating that he was not in favor of gay marriage.  When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in November 2003, Governor Romney began a two-tiered campaign.  On the one hand, he vowed to fulfill the court’s mandate.  Other the other, he worked hard to undermine it.  First he sought same-sex civil unions as a compromise, even though the SCJ said specifically that civil unions were not good enough.  Then he tried to get the gay marriage issue on the ballot to be overturned by a constitutional amendment.  Fortunately for Massachusetts, unlike California, it takes more than just a bunch of signed petitions to get something on the ballot.  Constitutional amendments have to first be approved by two sessions of the legislature over a two year period before they can go on the ballot.  With such a high bar, the Governor capitulated, allowing the marriages to go forward starting in May 2004.  Then he continued to work for the constitutional amendment.

Not willing to leave well enough alone, Governor Romney invoked a hitherto ignored law from 1913 which declared that non-residents cannot come to Massachusetts to get married if the marriage is not recognized in the couple’s home state.  The 1913 law was a throwback to the days of miscegenation.  Massachusetts allowed the matrimonial mingling of the races in 1843, but with the 1913 law it confined its liberal ways within its own borders.  So Governor Romney used a law meant to enable racism in other states to help contain gay marriage as much as possible.  What a guy.

Ultimately, his maneuvers and machinations failed.  In January 2007, when the gay marriage out/civil unions in amendment came up for a vote in the state legislature, it failed to garner the necessary 50 votes needed to put the matter on the ballot.  And in 2008, the legislature passed a bill striking down the 1913 law, a bill which the new governor, Duval Patrick, signed into law.  Still, Mitt Romney has used his anti-gay marriage creds to good purpose on the campaign trail.  From the Times article:

“Massachusetts should not become the Las Vegas of same-sex marriage,” he told the New York Times, a line he has repeated frequently on the campaign trail this year as he touts his efforts to stop gay marriage. “We do not intend to export our marriage confusion to the entire nation.”

Yep.  That’s right, Mr. Romney.  You prevented queer folks from all over the country from flocking, say, to Provincetown — where my partner and I have vacationed for years — to have wonderful marriage ceremonies at the quaint Town Hall or on Race Point Beach or at any of the other picturesque locations P-town has to offer.  By doing so, you also prevented businesses in P-town and all over Massachusetts, from florists to clothiers to chapels to restaurants and hotels, from potentially reaping millions of dollars of revenue.  How pro-business is that?

Well, not very.  But never mind that.  Mr. Romney’s need to maintain his anti-gay creds with the far right clearly trumps his desire to help businesses gain more revenue.

Which is why the whole debacle surrounding Richard Grenell really is not that surprising at all.  Mr. Grenell was appointed as a spokesman on national security issues for the Romney campaign on April 19.  Headlines quickly appeared declaring that the appointment showed a change for the Romney campaign.  Since the protracted nomination campaign was all but over — the Gingrich campaign had yet to suspend, but its doom was nigh — Mr. Romney could safely shake his Etch-a-Sketch and began redrawing himself more in the center, or so folks thought.

But the new attitude did not last long.  On May 2, three days after the LA Times’ chronicle and 13 days after his appointment, Mr. Grenell resigned amid what he called a “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues.”  Mr. Romney accepted Mr. Grenell’s resignation, apparently without trying to talk him out of it personally or trying to calm the waters that caused it in the first place.  In other words, he allowed Mr. Grenell to throw himself under the bus to appease the far right partisans that disapproved of his appointment in the first place.  These are, of course, the same far right partisans Mr. Romney had been courting with his “look at me, I kept the gays from coming to Massachusetts to marry” shtick many years earlier.

There was no flip-flopping in this case.  He didn’t need to shake his Etch-a-Sketch.  Mr. Romney behaved as Mr. Romney has always behaved, with hostility towards LGBT folks.  Same as he ever was.

© 2012, gar. All rights reserved.


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