Following the formal announcement of the citizens' initiative petition for the constitutional amendment regarding marriage, Gov. Mitt Romney gave a press conference at the State House.
MassResistance was there, tape recorded the proceedings, and took the photo on the right. We've highlighted some of the interesting parts of his talk.
In the press conference, Gov. Romney made several statements that we found troubling:
Text of press conference
Governor Romney (opening statement):
It's my understanding that the Massachusetts Family Institute has
authored and is proposing an amendment relating to gay marriage. And
there are a couple of things I'd like to say. First,
I think it's
important that in any discussion related to marriage that we should
reiterate time and again our view that individuals in our society
should be able to make the choices they want in their lives, and
that we have respect for people's choices.
We have a high degree of respect and tolerance for people whose
lifestyle and choices and orientation is as they may choose. And
therefore it's important that as we discuss matters of this nature
that we always do so in a way that is respectful of other people's
opinions, other people's choices, and other people's views.
My view is that marriage should be defined as a relationship between
a man and a woman. I also maintain that something so fundamental to
our society as marriage should be decided by the citizens, and not
by a court with a one-justice majority. My preference is that when
the issue is decided by the citizens, that it's a very clean,
straightforward, unambiguous amendment which they have the
opportunity to vote on, rather than something which is confused by
multiple features being combined. And I'm concerned that the
amendment currently under consideration in the legislature is somewhat
confused or muddied by the combination of two things. One is the
definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, which I
support. The other is the requirement that there be civil unions in
the Commonwealth, which is a condition I do not support. For
these reasons I am pleased that a new amendment has been brought
forward that's quite clear, it defines marriage as a relationship
between a man and a woman, and it therefore would provide to the
legislature the opportunity from time to time to provide benefits
and rights associated with same-sex couples as the legislature and
the administration felt appropriate.
I therefore support the Coalition for Marriage's proposed amendment.
I believe it's superior to the amendment which is currently pending
before the state legislature, and hope that this amendment will
ultimately will be the one which the citizens have an opportunity to
vote upon. With that, I'm happy to respond to questions that you may
Q: Governor, will you help out in this effort at all in radio or
television ads, go out to the towns and cities of Massachusetts and
urge voters to sign onto this, get the signatures, and what-not?
A: Well, I certainly support the amendment, I'll be managing my own
campaign and working on campaigns for other Republican candidates. I
don't anticipate being involved directly in campaign efforts for
this amendment, but you know I wouldn't close the door on that
necessarily. I just don't… I think this organization's shown in the
past it's fully capable of gathering signatures and carrying out its
campaign successfully, and I don't anticipate I'll be an active part
Q: Have you or your administration been closely involved in moving forward with
A: Actually not. My administration has not been involved actively in
bringing forth this amendment. I think it's a superior amendment to
what's being currently considered, but the provisions itself or
themselves are something that I haven't been involved with. I'm sure
members of my staff have been in touch with this group, and have
been exchanging viewpoints. But that's not something I've put an
active role in, or our administration's put an active role in. I'm
pleased that it's come forward.
Q: Governor, Will you continue, as you have in the past, to strongly
emphasize your opposition to gay marriage as you travel the country
making "non-presidential" campaign appearances?
A: I will be happy to continue to emphasize my view that marriage
should be a relationship between a man and a woman. And I hope the
voters of Massachusetts get the same chance the voters in 11 other
states got last year, and that is the chance to preserve marriage as
a relationship between a man and a woman, which of course passed in
all 11 states where it was taken to the voters. And I'm convinced it
will pass here. And also recognize that this is a matter of
conscience for individuals. It is not a party line matter.
Republicans and Democrats will be divided on this issue, and some
will support it, some will not support it as it stands. I happen to
support and think it's a good idea, but it's something people will
decide without regard to party affiliation.
Q: Will you be talking about the issue tomorrow when you take
California by storm?
A: You know, as I go outside the state, if you haven't noticed, I
give the same speech. I've written a speech, I give it everywhere I
go. I'm not trying to write more than one speech. And so I'll give
the same speech I've been giving, and it does include a reference to
marriage. I think that the Democratic party in Massachusetts may
have made an error in selecting as its party platform an
endorsement of same-sex marriage. I think that's a mistake. I think
that instead the party should put this in the hands of the voters as
citizens to vote their conscience.
Q: Governor, are you urging that the legislature reject the current
A: Well, the legislature can hear my view, and Republican and
Democratic legislators, to the extent that they're influenced by my
own thinking, will take that into account. But I believe this is
a matter that should be voted on the basis of conscience, not by
party affiliation or by party leadership encouraging the direction
of the vote one way or the other, and I will certainly as I'm doing right now express my
view that this is a superior amendment. I
hope the legislators of both parties agree with me, and they vote in
favor of it. But I don't intend to lobby the legislature on the
basis of this amendment. We'll discuss it I'm sure, but people will
vote their conscience. I think there'll be a lot of discussion about
what's the right procedural process, and how does this fit with the
other amendment, which amendment's going to come up first, do we
vote no on this, what does it mean for others. There's a procedural
process that has to be followed here. The last amendment, for
instance, I thought indeed should be brought forward. I'll call it
the Travaglini-Lees amendment. I saw it as a procedural opportunity
for us if it were passed as it was, that we would get standing to go
before the Supreme Judicial Court and receive a stay of the court's
ruling. I was openly frustrated in that effort by the Attorney
General's decision not to take the case forward to the Supreme
Judicial Court. So it didn't fulfill the purpose I had hoped for.
Regardless, I believe this is a superior amendment, and therefore I'll
support this amendment.
Q: Given that, Governor, do you now hope the legislature rejects
A: I think procedurally, … uh…
Q: Will it come up first?
A: I'm not sure what's going to happen, and in terms of when it's going
to happen, and so forth. This is the amendment I'd like to see
go before the people. I'm not sure procedurally just what's
going to happen first, second, third, and whether you need to keep
that alive to make this work, or whether that has to disappear in
order for this to work. But I'm going to turn to my procedural
parliamentarians and say, OK, what's the process going to be.
Throughout the process it would be my hope that instead of the
Travaglini-Lees amendment being on the ballot, that this is the
amendment that makes it to the ballot.
Q: Governor, does it concern you at all the under this amendment
there would still be four years' worth of gay marriages that would
exist in Massachusetts? It doesn't address the ones that have
already taken place. There would still be legally married gay
A: You know, I think the Family Institute is wise not to try and
dissolve marriages that will have occurred. And I think that would
be a confusing factor that would muddy the issue even further. I
think it's a wise course to have the amendment take its effect from
its passage forward and not try and change things that have passed. I
also recognize that we will have gay marriages while we are waiting
for this amendment to pass. It would be my preference of course if
that were not the case, but I didn't get a chance to argue that
before the Supreme Judicial Court. I think in matters such as this
however is important enough and is fundamental enough to our society
that we have for our citizens the optimal amendment, and not
something which is confused by multiple issues. I also believe that
this issue of marriage is not a matter of convenience for a few
people, or even a decade, or perhaps even a generation, but is a
multi-generational multi-decade definition that affects the
development of future generations, and therefore we should be very
careful in making sure that what we bring forward to our citizens is
as close to the final product we'd like to see as possible.
Q: Governor, you said you support some sort of domestic partnership benefits in
A: Well, that isn't necessary right now, because we're providing
marriage to same-sex couples with full benefits.
If this amendment
were to pass, at that stage I would support legislation which would
provide certain domestic partnership benefits, like hospital visitation
rights, and rights of survivorship, and so forth. There will be
children born to same-sex couples, and adopted by same-sex couples,
and I believe that there should be rights and privileges associated
with those unions and with the children that are part of those
Q: Governor, we've had a year a gay marriage now. Do you see any
evidence that this undercuts the institution of marriage and has
hurt our society in any way? Is there any evidence…
A: Well, there are two things that I think are already apparent. One
is that there is the legal confusion that was foretold. There are
cases in other states as to the rights of children from same-sex
couples that move away from Massachusetts. There are divorce issues.
I'd be happy to pull out some of the articles we've received,
inquiries from other states. And of course I've reviewed press
articles from other states as to whether people can get divorced in
other states if they got married here if they're same-sex couples
and they didn't abide by the provisions of the 1913 law, and so
forth. There's a whole series of legal implications of marriage that
have not been resolved. Interestingly, the Supreme Judicial Court I
believe signaled that pretty clearly in their original decision,
giving to the legislature a period of time to enact statutes that
would avoid those legal confusions. The legislature has not done so. And as a result, there's I think a degree of uncertainty as to what
the rights are, the death benefit rights, the child's right to the
two parents in a same-sex marriage. Those things haven't been
resolved yet by their respective state courts. So that's one area of
The other, I don't believe that the institution of marriage, meaning
in the sense of people being able to combine as adults, is the
primary factor at stake. I believe instead it's the development of
future generations which is involved primarily in the definition
society places on marriage. And so I believe that the ideal setting
for raising children is where there is a man and a woman, a mother
and a father. I believe a child should have a right to having a
mother and a father. And so the implications of same-sex marriage
will only be measured over generations, not over years or months.
But the legal confusion, of course, has already begun.
Q: Governor, what about the broader issue of judicial activism? Do
you support or oppose the Bill of Address movement to recall the
A: I'm not looking to recall the judges.
I do however believe that
justices should not legislate from the bench any more than
legislators should adjudicate from the legislature. And I believe
that there should be a separation of powers and responsibilities,
and I believe that in this case that the Supreme Judicial Court
engaged in legislating. I believe it was an improper decision on
their part, and that's why I believe that ultimately the citizens
should have the opportunity to make this choice, or their elected
Q: Is there a possibility that by supporting this amendment that
neither of them will pass, because when various certain coalitions
form the first one wants some rights, they don't want gay marriage,
and isn't there a possibility that by having two that it will
undercut both of them?
A: I think that there are a wide range of possibilities. It's hard
to speculate what the political process might lead to. And that's
why I want to be a little careful in saying exactly what the process
might be going forward here. I'm not sure just exactly which one
should be voted on first and second, which ones people who are [?]
should support, which we shouldn't. I know - I can tell you where
I'd want to get to at the end, where I'd like to get to at the end,
is where this amendment ultimately reaches the people for a vote.
This is very close to the original amendment that was proposed by
Speaker Finneran and others, which I supported. We lost by two
votes. And it has many of the same features, and I hope it's the one
that ultimately reaches the people. But I recognize that any time
you bring something forward, it's possible that you end up taking a
step backward, and I hope that's not the case.
THANK YOU, GOVERNOR. End of press conference.