What is Mitt Romney's position on gay rights ?
Mitt Romney's position on gay rights doesn't quite lend itself to a bumper sticker. Depending on whom you ask, it is either too thoughtful and nuanced, or too inconsistent and politically expedient. Either way, it's definitely got the GOP presidential candidate on the defensive.
There was a reminder of that Monday when Mitt Romney was forced to defend his opposition to gay marriage during a restaurant encounter with a grizzled Vietnam veteran named Bob Garon, who happened to be gay.
"The story on same-sex marriage is that I have the same position on that I had when I ran from the very beginning," Romney said in an interview last month with the Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire.
"I'm in favor of traditional marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage. At the same time, I don't believe in discriminating in employment or opportunity for gay individuals. So I favor gay rights; I do not favor same-sex marriage. That has been my position all along."
Always Opposed Gay Marriage
The second part of his statement is clear: Romney does not favor gay marriage. He supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that bars federal recognition of gay marriage, as well as a constitutional amendment to do the same.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney did everything he could to stop gay marriage there after the state's high court allowed it.
Romney responded to the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision by vowing to keep the state from becoming, as he put it, "the Las Vegas of gay marriage." At the time, Romney stated: "I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. ... Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman."
But back during his first political run in 1994, Romney aggressively courted gay voters, promising to do more for "full equality" for gays and lesbians than his Massachusetts opponent, Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Today, Romney denies any inconsistency.
"What happened was that the gay community changed their perspective as to what they wanted," Romney told CNN's Piers Morgan this summer, elaborating that when he talks about gay rights, he's never meant gay marriage, but rather equal opportunity in jobs and housing.
"I oppose same-sex marriage," Romney told Morgan. "At the same time, I would advance the efforts not to discriminate against people who are gay."
Romney declined an interview with NPR for this report.
"You cannot in the same breath say that you support non-discrimination against LGBT people and that you support DOMA," said Ned Flaherty with Marriage Equality USA. "It makes no sense."
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