This primary season has sparked some heavy debate on issues ranging from job creation to abortion, but nothing gets conservatives riled up quite like gay rights. The field of Republican candidates may be narrowing — Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain most notably exiting — but LGBT Republicans and their allies still have the choice of several candidates. On the eve of the nation's first primary for 2012, we take a look at the main candidates' most recent polling numbers and some of their strong stances from the past year. Whether you're headed to the polls in the coming months or waiting for the big election in November, we hope this guide can help.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney
Public Policy Polling as of January 8: 35%
On Marriage Equality:
Romney unveiled his three-tier plan for marriage and partner recognition in December. According to the Boston Herald, Romney would allow "maintaining marriage rights for straight couples, allowing gays who have already married to remain married, but barring future same-sex marriages." Although he said signing the Family Leader pledge was inappropriate (without explaining why), Romney signed one from the National Organization for Marriage that has him on the record as supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
On Gays' Adoption and Custody Rights:
In 2006, Romney said same-sex couples have "a legitimate interest in being able to receive adoptive services." In October, Romney told CNS News that states should be able to decide whether same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children. But he's also complained that religious groups such as Catholic Charities were barred from discriminating against same-sex couples in adoption and foster care services while receiving state funds. Also, earlier this year, he said two gay parents are not "ideal," compared to a mother and father.
On HIV/AIDS Funding or Advocacy:
Romney has indicated that aid to foreign governments for HIV/AIDS assistance should be handled more from charitable donations and the private sector.
On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal:
In December, Romney said "don't ask, don't tell" should not have been repealed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he said if elected, he would not reinstate the law, which means gay troops would continue to serve openly in the military. "I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, due to the complicating features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down, and moving in that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem,” he said.
On Workplace Discrimination and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
While he downplayed his stance on workplace discrimination when he ran for president in 2008, Romney had indicated support for some protections for LGBT employees. But as with many issues, other statements make the depth of his support unclear. The Human Rights Campaign claimed in a news release that Romney opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, saying it would “open a litigation floodgate and unfairly penalize employers at the hands of activist judges.”