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Mitt Romney on Civil Rights

Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent


Recruited women for gubernatorial staff

Serving as governor of my state, I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said, "Can you help us find folks," and they brought us whole binders full of women. Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort.
Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

I picked a woman Lt. Gov., and more women in my Cabinet

My mom said, "Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?" I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies.

Source: 2012 Republican National Convention speech , Aug 30, 2012

1993: As church leader, granted women's equality requests

In 1993, Helen Sievers performed shuttle diplomacy to resolve a thorny problem confronting church leaders in Boston: resentment among progressive Mormon women at their subservient status within the church. So Sievers went to Romney, who was stake president, with a proposal.

About 250 women filled the pews of the Belmont chapel. Women began proposing changes that would include them more in the life of the church. In the end, the group came up with some 70 suggestions--from letting women speak after men in church to putting changing tables in men's bathrooms.

Romney was essentially willing to grant any request he couldn't see a reason to reject, Sievers said. "Pretty much, he said yes to everything that I would have said yes to, and I'm kind of a liberal Mormon," she said. A year later, right before Romney left the stake presidency, he was amazed at how many of the women's suggestions had been implemented. Many were small, procedural matters, but they added up to a significant concession.

Source: The Real Romney, by Kranish & Helman, p.122-123 , Jan 17, 2012

Right to be kept alive means secret surveillance is OK

Q: Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

A: Intelligence and surveillance have proven to be some of the most effective national security tools we have to protect our nation. Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive and the President should not hesitate to use every legal tool at his disposal to keep America safe.

Source: Boston Globe questionnaire on Executive Power , Dec 20, 2007

Enemy combatants, if citizens, entitled to habeas corpus

Q: Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

A: All US citizens are entitled to due process, including at least some type of habeas corpus relief regardless whether they are designated unlawful enemy combatants or not.

Source: Boston Globe questionnaire on Executive Power , Dec 20, 2007

Equality for Muslims; but follow hate-preachers into mosques

Q: Arab Americans are feeling a bias after Sept. 11th from their fellow Americans. How would you change that?

A: Well, of course, we remind people that this is a nation that recognizes the equality of all individuals. We also want to make sure that our nation is kept safe. And we’re going to pursue any avenue we have to, to assure that people who might be preaching or teaching doctrines of hate or terror are going to be followed into a church or into a school or a mosque or wherever they might be.

Source: 2007 Republican debate in Dearborn, Michigan , Oct 9, 2007

Supported English-only laws but ran Spanish commercials

At the end of the third GOP debate, immigration restrictionist and Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo warned that English needed to be made the official language of the country "to hold us together." Then McCain's rival Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, slickly evaded a question about how he could support English-only laws while also running Spanish-language commercials. McCain, suddenly looking relaxed for the first time in months, said "Governor, muchas gracias," then uncorked a moving extemporaneous speech about the Hispanic names "engraved in black granite" at the Vietnam memorial, and the "green-card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they're willing to risk their lived in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation." Love or hate the immigration bill, it was an inspiring patriotic soliloquy.
Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p. 23 , Oct 9, 2007

2006: Marriage: I agree with 3000 years of recorded history

On December 14, 2006, Romney said in a National Review Online interview: “Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.

“I agree with 3000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.”

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 60 , Aug 31, 2007

To compete as a nation, draw on skills of women & minorities

Women that I have seen in organizations have not had the opportunity that they deserve to have in getting ahead in organizations. If we are to compete as a nation, we’ve got to draw on the skills of women and minorities. And I have seen organizations from the federal government to corporations that are not drawing on the skills of women and minorities.
Source: MA Senate Debate with Ted Kennedy , Oct 1, 1994

Help women thru glass ceiling by requiring annual reporting

Women are concerned about the glass ceiling. My entire life has been one of working with women and helping women thru the glass ceiling. Public companies and federal agencies should be required in their annual report the number of women & minorities by income category, so we can identify where the glass ceiling is, and we can break through it. The marketplace will say “that company has not promoted women and minorities” and will put pressure on American corporations and agencies to respond.
Source: MA Senate Debate with Ted Kennedy , Oct 1, 1994

Welcome nativity scenes in public places on holidays

The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation ‘Under God’ and in God, we do indeed trust.

We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders--in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from ‘the God who gave us liberty.’

Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage. American values are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They are the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

Source: Speech “Faith In America” at Bush Presidential Library , Dec 6, 2007


Mitt Romney on Gay Rights

Everything but "marriage" for gay couples

Q: You have said openly that you oppose same sex marriages and you want to change the Constitution to ban them. If one of your children or grandchildren were gay, and would want to get married, what is your advice for them?

A: Well, my kids are all married, so I'd be surprised. But I have grandchildren. And I love my children and I love my grandchildren. And I would, of course, want them to be happy. My view is this, that individuals should be able to pursue a relationship of love and respect, and raise a family as they would choose. I would like to have the term "marriage" continue to be associated with a relationship between one man and one woman. And that certainly doesn't prevent two people of the same gender living in a loving relationship together, having a domestic partnership, if you will. I can see rights, such as hospital visitation rights, and similar types of things, being provided to those individuals. But marriage for me continues to be a relationship between a man and a woman.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

1994: "I'll be better than Ted Kennedy" on gay rights

Romney's willingness to embrace socially moderate, even liberal, positions--Romney himself preferred the term "socially innovative"--made him an attractive candidate for groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans, a grassroots GOP gay and lesbian organization. In 1994, as Romney was seeking the group's endorsement, he sat down with Richard Tafel, the group's founder, and received a primer on gay rights issues. Romney was deeply engaged, asked probing questions, and noted that he had gay employees at Bain. "I'd met with businessmen and politicians, and this felt like a business meeting. It felt much more pragmatic," Tafel said. Romney's approach was "What do I need to do here? How do I get this done?" One Massachusetts Republican who has known Romney for years summed up his approach this way: "In Mitt's mind, it doesn't matter what my positions are. I'm someone who solves problems." "I'm with you on this stuff," Tafel recalled Romney saying. "I'll be better than Ted Kennedy."
Source: The Real Romney, by Kranish & Helman, p,181-182 , Jan 17, 2012

2002: domestic partnership benefits instead of civil unions

The political landscape had shifted following Vermont's pioneering decision in 2000 to legalize civil unions. The decision spooked gay marriage opponents in Massachusetts, who organized a push for a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to heterosexual unions. But Romney said he did not support the proposed ban.

Romney did not support same-sex marriage, declaring in a 2002 questionnaire for "Bay Windows," New England's leading gay and lesbian newspaper, "I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman." He also said he opposed civil unions, believing they were too close to marriage. But at the same time, he was assuring gays and lesbians--publicly and privately--that he would not crusade against them. Plus he was voicing support for domestic partner benefits that sounded an awful lot like civil unions.

Source: The Real Romney, by Kranish & Helman, p.230 , Jan 17, 2012

Gay community needs more support from the Republican Party

Q: You said in Bay Windows, which is a gay newspaper in Massachusetts, in 1994 when you were running against Senator Kennedy, "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." How have you used your voice to influence Republicans on this issue?

ROMNEY: I don't discriminate. And in the appointments that I made when I was governor of Massachusetts, a member of my Cabinet was gay. I appointed people to the bench, regardless of their sexual orientation, made it very clear that, in my view, we should not discriminate in hiring policies, in legal policies. At the same time, from the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community, "I do not favor same-sex marriage." But if people are looking for someone who will discriminate against gays, they won't find that in me.

Q: When's the last time you stoop up and spoke out for increasing gay rights?

ROMNEY: Right now.

Source: Meet the Press 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate , Jan 8, 2012

1994: Supported ENDA to ban anti-gay employer discrimination

In 1994 Romney had supported the passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would have prohibited discrimination against employees based on their sexual orientation. He has since changed his mind only to the extent that he thought the matter better left to the states. He frequently justifies himself by recalling Abraham Lincoln's willingness to admit errors and change his mind: "If you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy."
Source: An Inside Look, by R.B. Scott, p.148 , Nov 22, 2011

2003: Worked with cities to prepare for gay marriages

In May 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that same-sex marriage was constitutional in the Commonwealth; Romney was caught flat-footed. At first he accused the SJC of legislating from the bench, although it was quite clear the SJC had left the legislative component to the legislature. When the legislature dithered over how best to respond, Romney began to make plans to implement the law. Even though he had a number of tactical and legal maneuvers available, he let it be known that he would neither attempt to circumvent nor obstruct the application of lawful court orders. To do so would violate one of the thirteen Articles of Mormon Faith: "We believe...in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." He quietly began working with the c
Source: Mitt Romney: An Inside Look, by R.B. Scott, p.111-112 , Nov 22, 2011

1993: Denied ever calling homosexuality "perverse"

Just a few weeks after he announced his Senate candidacy in '93, a young member of one of the student wards in Cambridge vividly remembered that a month earlier, Mitt had called homosexuals "perverse." Romney, whose recently announced positions on gay rights were considered progressive for the time, angrily denied he'd ever uttered the word, but other sources, including a local leader of the church, confirmed the accuracy of the young man's memory.

The damage had been done. Romney's adamant denial and his subsequent dismissive treatment of some Mormon liberals provoked reactions that, in short order, led to the formation of the somewhat ad hoc, but passionately dogged, Mormon anti-Romney advocacy groups that badgered him relentlessly throughout the 1994 campaign.

Source: An Inside Look, by R.B.Scott, p. 59 , Nov 22, 2011

2003: Battled legislatively against legalizing gay marriage

On Nov. 18, 2003, a 4-3 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalized gay marriages in the state. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by Pres. Clinton in 1996, defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman and saying that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex. If DOMA fell, the only way left to defend traditional marriage was a constitutional amendment.

The issue grew more intense, but Bush's rhetoric did not. Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney was forced into a battle with his legislature in an effort to overturn the decision.

To discourage resistance, gay marriage supporters decided those who disagreed with them had to be bigots. This made gay marriage the kind of issue most political candidates dread--not because they don't know where they stand, but because no one likes being branded a hater.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.374-376 , Mar 9, 2010

Marriage is not just quaint custom; recognize critical role

Proponents of same-sex marriage have attempted to characterize its opponents as being universally antigay. That has sometimes been an effective campaign tactic, but it is untrue. And because most Americans know it is untrue, same-sex marriage has repeatedly been rejected by voters. For me and for many others, opposition to same-sex marriage stems from the strong conviction that the ideal setting in which to raise a child is in a home with both a mother and a father. Regardless of whether one's opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in religious beliefs or social considerations, the marriage relationship has been the cornerstone of the institution of family since the beginning of time. Marriage is not just a quaint social custom. It is critical for the well-being of our children and therefore fundamental to the future strength of the nation. It's time for us to recognize its critical role and finally act to preserve it as the institution that nurtures and protects our next generation.
Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.269 , Mar 2, 2010

GovWatch: 1994: Favored gays serving openly in military

Top Romney Flip Flops: #2. Gay Rights:

In a 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, who advocate gay rights, Romney said he was in favor of “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly” in the military. He now says it would be a mistake to interfere with the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.”

Source: GovWatch on 2008 campaign: “Top Ten Flip-Flops” , Feb 5, 2008

Supports Employment Nondiscrimination Act at state level

Q: You said that you would sponsor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act [banning gays from being fired]. Do you still support it?

A: At the state level. I think it makes sense for states to put in provision of this. I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be implemented at the state level. If you’re looking for someone who’s never changed any positions on any policies, then I’m not your guy. I learn from experience.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Dec 16, 2007

MA Constitution, by John Adams, has no same-sex marriage

I’ve been in a state that has gay marriage, and I recognize that the consequences of gay marriage fall far beyond just the relationship between a man and a woman. They also relate to our kids and the right of religion to be practiced freely in a society.

The status of marriage, if it’s allowed among the same sex individuals in one state is going to spread to the entire nation. And that’s why it’s important to have a national standard for marriage. And I’m committed to making sure that we reinforce the institution of marriage in this country by insisting that all states have a right to have marriage as defined as between a man and a woman; and we don’t have unelected judges saying we’re going to impose same-sex marriage where it was clearly not in their state constitution.

My state’s constitution was written by John Adams. It isn’t there. I’ve looked. The people need to speak on this issue and make sure that marriage is preserved as between a man and a woman.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida , Oct 21, 2007

1994: Gays ok in Boy Scouts

Here’s a brief review of Romney’s public record on gay rights in his 1994 campaign against Senator Edward Kennedy.
Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p. 58-59 , Aug 31, 2007

Don’t ask, don’t tell sounds silly, but it’s effective

Q: In 1994 you were quoted as saying that you advocated gays being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military. Do you still feel that way?

ROMNEY: No, actually, when I first heard of the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I thought it sounded awfully silly. I didn’t think that would be very effective. And I turned out to be wrong. It’s been the policy now in the military for what, 10, 15 years, and it seems to be working. This is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on. I wouldn’t change it at this point. We can look at down the road. But it does seem to me that we have much bigger issues as a nation we ought to be talking about than that policy right now.

McCAIN: I think it would be a terrific mistake to even reopen the issue. The policy is working. And I am convinced that that’s the way we can maintain this greatest military. Let’s not tamper with them.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Pushed vote on traditional marriage against MA gay marriage

Romney has earned the trust of the pro-marriage network because he has battled against his state’s highest court & its Democratic legislature to return marriage to its traditional definition.

When legislators waited until after the 2006 elections to recess with the intent of killing a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution restoring traditional marriage--an amendment that had been backed by 170,000 signatures & years of lobbying--Romney refused to go quietly. He organized a rally of thousands outside the capitol, blasting the legislators for refusing to allow a vote: “Last week, 109 legislators decided to abandon the constitution and violate their oath of office. For the constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature SHALL vote.”

Romney’s ire was directed not at those legislators who would have voted against allowing the amendment to be on the ballot, but at the 109 lawmakers who refused to allow the vote on the ballot to be held

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.121-23 , Mar 12, 2007

Marriage pre-dates our Constitution & shouldn’t de redefined

On February 5, 2004, Romney wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “One Man, One Woman: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting Marriage.” Romney blasted the Massachusetts high court’s reasoning while holding up marriage as a crucial institution:

Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It encompasses many obligations and benefits affecting husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It is the foundation of a harmonious family life. It is the basic building block of society: the development, productivity and happiness of new generations are bound to the family unit. That benefits are given to married couples and not to singles or gay couples has nothing to do with discrimination; it has everything to do with building a stable new generation and nation.

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.129-130 , Mar 12, 2007

Constitutional amendment defining 1-man-1-woman marriage

In 2004, Romney joined the national debate and endorsed a federal marriage amendment in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His statement remains the most complete statement of his beliefs. Excerpts follow:
“Given the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, America faces questions regarding the institution of marriage. Should we abandon marriage as we know it?...

I join with those who support a federal constitutional amendment. Massachusetts has a law that attempts to restrain this infringement by restricting marriages of out-of-state couples to those where no impediment to marry exists in their home state. Even with this law, valid same-sex marriages will migrate to other states. For each state to preserve its own power in relation to marriage, a federal amendment to define marriage is necessary.“

Source: A Mormon in the White House?, by Hugh Hewitt, p.130-133 , Mar 12, 2007

Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman

I took a stand against the Massachusetts supreme-court ruling on same-sex marriage. I have made clear since 2003, when the supreme court of Massachusetts redefined marriage by fiat, that my unwavering advocacy for traditional marriage stands side by side with a tolerance and respect for all Americans.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone. The debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.

I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.

Source: RSLevinson.com “All Things Queer”, review of 2008 gay issues , Jan 1, 2007

Opposed gay marriage but played fair and upheld law

In one instance, after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriages, Romney spoke out against the ruling and endorsed constitutional changes, while at the same time he vowed to uphold the law as it was currently fashioned. This has won him the trust of the Democratic voters who are the majority in Massachusetts as they see Romney as playing fairly in a squabble that will ultimately be decided at the voting booths.
Source: 2008 speculation in Beehive Standard Weekly (NV) , Apr 12, 2006

Every child deserves a mother and a father

Throughout our history, when our country needed us, Americans have stepped forward, standing up to every challenge. We step forward by expressing tolerance and respect for all God’s children, regardless of their differences and choices. At the same time, because every child deserves a mother and a father, we step forward by recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Source: 2004 Republican Convention Speech , Sep 1, 2004

OpEd: abdicated power in 2004 & allowed gay marriage

In Nov. 2003, the State Supreme Judicial Court gave the Massachusetts legislature 6 months to enact a law granting homosexuals the right to marry. In July, the US Supreme Court had struck down the laws of 17 states and declared homosexual sodomy to be a constitutionally protected right. Following that decision, Justice Scalia fairly exploded:

"State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity [are now] called into question. The court has largely signed on to the homosexual agenda. The court has taken sides in the culture war."

Indeed, it had. Nevertheless, on May 17, 2004, Gov. Romney bowed to the order of the court and began handling out the marriage licenses, though he and the state legislature believed that nothing in the constitution of the commonwealth mandated gay marriages. Few better examples exist of how unelected judges have usurped the law-making power, and how elected officials have abdicated.

Source: Where the Right Went Wrong, by Pat Buchanan, p.214 , Aug 12, 2004

Supports benefits for gay partners, but not gay marriage

All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual orientation. While he does not support gay marriage, Mitt Romney believes domestic partnership status should be recognized in a way that includes the potential for health benefits and rights of survivorship.
Source: Campaign web site, www.romney2002.com, “Issues” , Sep 17, 2002

Sexual orientation should not preclude being a Scout

I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.
Source: Peter Gosselin in Boston Globe , Oct 27, 1994

  • Click here for 6 older quotations from Mitt Romney on Civil Rights.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Civil Rights.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Mitt Romney.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Mitt Romney.
Other candidates on Civil Rights: Mitt Romney on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

Former Contenders:
V.P.Al Gore
Pat Buchanan
V.P.Dick Cheney
Sen.Bob Dole
Ralph Nader
Gov.Sarah Palin

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
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Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Donald Trump
Gov.Jesse Ventura
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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014