IN OBAMA WE TRUST
BY Matthew Breen
July 13 2012 10:40 AM ET
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with his wife Ann Romney and his family.
Obama can easily be contrasted with his opponent, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who as a businessman candidate for U.S. Senate in 1994 declared that he’d be “better than Ted Kennedy” on gay rights. He made similar statements in his 2002 gubernatorial run. Yet in 2005, at a Republican rally in South Carolina, journalist Chris Matthews asked, “Do you think there’s any difference, really, between a gay marriage and something called a civil union?” Romney replied, “Well, I would rather have neither, to tell you the truth.” In 2004 he decried LGBTs “actually having children.” His distaste for LGBTs was palpable.
In 1994, Romney supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and he declared in a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, seeking their endorsement, that DADT was, confoundingly, “the first of a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.” By 2006 he had reversed his ENDA position because it would “unfairly penalize employers at the hands of activist judges,” and by 2007 he said he would not repeal DADT, despite the clear evidence that gays and lesbians could not serve openly due to the policy.
Whether his shifting positions are the result of fear of blowback from an increasingly conservative GOP or just a personal devolution, one can safely assume that a Romney administration would be unlikely to appoint a U.N. ambassador or secretary of State who would promote LGBT rights internationally. We would not see immigration reforms that value the marriages of American citizens to their foreign-national same-sex spouses. Romney would doubtlessly resume Justice Department defense of DOMA, which he supports as it stands. The right-wing ideologies of his potential Supreme Court nominees require little in the way of imaginative extrapolation.
The GOP abandoned core values of limited government and federalism in exchange for demonizing rhetoric and repressive legislation over who can marry, what kind of sex to have, and whether women are equal to men. No candidate beholden to this party can be an LGBT champion. While there are Republicans demonstrating independence, and who defy the GOP’s positions on these issues in pursuit of a greater good, Romney is not among them.
We acknowledge that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people do not yet live in an equitable society. Same-sex marriage is forbidden in the vast majority of states, and in many, LGBTs lack protections against job and housing discrimination. We still face disproportionate difficulties regarding education, poverty, and health care, and we face discrimination from religions and underrepresentation in politics, sports, media, and other arenas.
We cannot expect any president to be the balm for all our ills, but Obama has demonstrated through word and deed that he is capable of understanding and tackling the issues, with foresight and intellect, that affect a minority population, particularly the last group of people it’s still legally permissible to deny rights to in the United States.