Washington Mitt Romney may face questions regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality during tomorrow night's presidential debate, and if his past remarks are an indicator, he is likely to mask his anti-LGBT policies with vague statements declaring that he stands against discrimination. However, Romney's own words and actions paint a markedly different picture of a politician who is aligned closely with groups that seek to demonize LGBT people and their supporters.
The Human Rights Campaign has compiled an extensive report tracking Mitt Romney's increasingly anti-LGBT animus. The Romney who famously declared in 1994 that he would be "better than Ted [Kennedy] for gay rights" has since devolved into an extension of the far-right who stands against everything from relationship recognition to workplace protections for LGBT people. HRC's report can be accessed at www.hrc.org/romney.
"Mitt Romney likes to portray himself as a compassionate figure who would never want to discriminate against anyone, but his policies point to just the opposite," said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. "Mitt Romney advocates against issues that impact virtually every area of an LGBT person's life from their ability to marry the person they love and start a family, to ensuring they can't be fired from their job simply because of who they are, even down to making it more difficult to address bullying in schools."
Here are a few potential issues that may be covered in tomorrow night's debate, and the facts on where Mitt Romney really stands on LGBT equality:
Marriage & Relationship Recognition
Mitt Romney says: "I do not favor marriage between people of the same gender, and I do not favor civil unions if they are identical to marriage other than by name. My view is [that] domestic partnership benefits, hospital visitation rights, and the like are appropriate, but that the others are not."
The Facts: Romney tries to place himself somewhat closer to mainstream public opinion by implying that he supports some benefits for same-sex couples, but only can point to hospital visitation which same-sex couples already enjoy because of President Obama. His statement is hollow and wholly without meaning there remain hundreds of critical benefits and protections under state law, and over 1,100 more under federal law, tied to marriage that Romney refuses to acknowledge same-sex couples deserve. The one benefit he has gone on-record supporting hospital visitation is a right same-sex couples already enjoy.
Romney also supports the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act and a federal marriage amendment (FMA). The FMA would not only ban same-sex couples from marriage, but it also essentially would divorce same-sex couples who are legally married stripping them of rights and benefits they currently receive under the law.
Mitt Romney says: Every child deserves one mother and one father.
The Facts: Romney's refusal to acknowledge the dignity and respect LGBT families deserve is much more insidious than he lets on. At a campaign stop in South Carolina in the run-up to his first presidential bid, Romney bemoaned to a crowd that of the same-sex couples marrying in Massachusetts, "some are actually having children born to them." In 2004, Romney told a resident who asked him what she should tell her daughter about why her moms couldn't marry: "I don't really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don't you just tell her the same thing you've been telling her the last eight years."
Romney also has demonstrated that he is blind to the obstacles same-sex couples face in starting families. In a May 2012 interview, Romney said "I think all states but one allow gay adoption that's a position that's been decided by most of the state legislatures, so I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all of the states but one."
The truth is that in the vast majority of states, adoption by LGB individuals and families is unclear and left to the discretion of judges, state agencies, and adoption agencies that may discriminate.
Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Mitt Romney says: He opposes discrimination against anyone. During his tenures at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts, he hired and appointed openly gay people.
The Facts: Romney's vague opposition to discrimination is utterly false. In fact despite once promising to support a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Romney now claims that such legislation would place an "undue burden" on employers that would "open a litigation floodgate."
Mitt Romney says: Every child deserves to feel safe and nurtured in school and in home.
The Facts: Romney has isolated and stigmatized LGBT youth at multiple points in his past. As a high school student, Romney led recurrent anti-gay bullying. According to a May 2012 Washington Post article, Romney relentlessly teased a classmate perceived to be gay, at one point yelling to the long-haired classmate, "He can't look like that. That's wrong. Just look at him!" Eventually the verbal harassment turned into physical violence, when Romney led a group of students who tackled him, pinned him to the ground, and cut his hair with a pair of scissors.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney blocked the publication of an anti-bullying guide simply because it included words like "bisexual" and "transgender." He also abolished the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth which was initially founded by a previous Republican governor - after the group lent its name to a flier for a local Pride parade. Previously, Romney had vetoed a funding increasing for the commission.
Romney's track record is disturbingly indicative of a man who will say anything to get elected regardless of his personal beliefs. He originally supported open service in the military, then opposed it, but now says he won't reverse the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He originally supported ENDA, and now he opposes it. He has vowed to push for a federal marriage amendment, but also has acknowledged that he no longer believes it has the support necessary to pass. Learn more about Romney's anti-LGBT policies and head-scratching inconsistencies at www.hrc.org/romney.