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The Romney Files
Mitt Romney’s CPAC Speech: His Claims vs. the Truth
by Amy Contrada
February 17, 2012
The real record on:
Mitt Romney’s speech at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 10, 2012) was at best full of half-truths and misrepresentations. What a mistake he made, inviting scrutiny of his record on constitutional and social issues as Governor of Massachusetts.
Here’s what he said on his handling of these issues:
During my tenure, our conservative values also came under attack. Less than a year after I took office, the state’s supreme court inexplicably found a right to same-sex marriage in our constitution. I pushed for a stay of the decision, fought for a marriage amendment to our constitution, and successfully prohibited out-of-state couples from coming to our state to get married and then go home. On my watch, we fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage. When I am President, I will preserve the Defense of Marriage Act and I will fight for a federal amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.
Let’s take these claims one at a time.
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “The state’s supreme court inexplicably found a right to same-sex marriage in our constitution.”
The TRUTH: The Court did so find, but Governor Romney followed their lead and unconstitutionally implemented “gay marriage” without legislative authorization. He treated the “inexplicable” opinion as law.
Romney is right: The November 2003 finding was “inexplicable” because a “right to same-sex marriage” is not in the Constitution. The four judges simply invented it. So why did Governor Romney give it any credence? Why did he not just ignore this act of judicial overreach, rather than just complain later about “activist judges”?
It was also “inexplicable” because the Court had no authority to act on marriage (an area the state Constitution reserves to the Governor and Legislature), or overturn the existing man-woman marriage law (which even the Court said it was not doing). The Legislature never changed the law as the Court suggested it do (since it had no power to order another branch to act). The Massachusetts Constitution states clearly that only the Legislature can make or overturn a law. Governor Romney had no order (even an illegitimate one) from the Court, and no authorization from the Legislature, to enact “gay marriage” through his executive departments. Yet he did just that in early 2004 – to the shock of many.
Romney never once discussed the Constitution’s clear separation of powers during the crisis. But he repeatedly called the Court ruling “law” that he had to obey. That is “inexplicable”! Why did he enforce this illegitimate ruling the Court could not have enforced on its own?
Romney knew when running for Governor in 2002 that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would soon be issuing a pro-gay-marriage ruling. What did he have to say on the issue as a candidate? Plenty – at a meeting in a gay bar with the homosexual Log Cabin Republicans. Romney:
… promised to obey the courts’ [sic] ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue. “I’ll keep my head low,” he said, making a bobbing motion with his head like a boxer, one participant recalled…. [Romney] promised the Log Cabin members that he would not champion a fight against same-sex marriage…. And, in the aftermath of the Massachusetts court decision, Mr. Romney, though aligning himself with the supporters of a constitutional amendment, did order town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some members of Log Cabin Republicans say that in doing so, he ultimately fulfilled his promise to them despite his own moral objections.
Also just previous to his election, he opposed the only realistic chance Massachusetts had to pass a marriage amendment, because its wording would have outlawed civil unions (equivalent to marriage in all but name). He called the proposed amendment “too extreme,” though his wife, son and daughter-in-law had signed it. This sheds light on his pledged support for a federal marriage amendment. It would not be “too extreme” for Romney, because it would likely not ban civil unions.
What happened when the Massachusetts Court opinion was announced on November 18, 2003? He delivered this brief, tepid statement – which failed to make any argument for either constitutional government or traditional marriage:
Romney’s statement calls for an amendment – though he had opposed one the previous year – but also for protecting gay rights! (His current campaign website distorts the record by omission, posting only the first part of his statement, leaving off the gay rights clause.)
He never expanded on the reasons for traditional marriage other than noting its long history and every child’s need for a mother and a father. (That is, except when the “parents” are “gay,” and then he thinks their adoptive “rights” should be acknowledged.) How can he be called a champion for marriage?
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “I pushed for a stay of the decision.”
The TRUTH: He wrongly accepted the Court as the ultimate authority, instead of doing his duty to act as a check on the Court. He could have pushed even harder for a stay, but in any case it was hopeless given the Court’s demonstrated bias.
This is a telling comment. Romney is accepting the “decision” – the Court’s deciphering of a “penumbra” in the Constitution – as legitimate. This reveals his acquiescence to the Court, recognizing it as the supreme arbiter of the law with final authority over the other two branches, no matter how absurd their opinion. But that directly contradicts the Massachusetts Constitution’s separation of powers clauses (written by John Adams).
Yet, Romney now says the Court’s ruling was “inexplicable” – admitting the Court was acting irrationally and contrary to the Constitution. Why did he then think an irrational, out-of-bounds Court would pay any attention to his request for a stay (while the amendment process ran its course)? This is inexplicable.
Even if it made sense to “push for a stay,” he could have pushed harder according to Professor Hadley Arkes (National Review) and gone before the Court on his own. But Romney claimed that he needed support from the Attorney General or Legislature to approach the Court, and they refused him. Did he lack the courage for a confrontation? Or, did he really want to implement “gay marriage”? That’s what he proceeded to do.
Romney’s Chief Legal Counsel, Daniel Winslow, helped guide the way. Later, Winslow was thanked by the Massachusetts homosexual-transgender lobby for his support implementing the “gay marriage” ruling.
ROMNEY CLAIMED: He “fought for a marriage amendment to our constitution.”
The TRUTH: Romney had opposed the only real chance for an amendment in 2002, and later attempts were poorly worded and doomed to failure. He offered little public support or leadership. The solution to judicial tyranny is to uphold the Constitutional separation of powers and work to remove the rogue judges. Romney failed to check the errant Court when he could.
At the peak of the “gay marriage” crisis (between November 2003 and May 2004), Romney redirected citizens’ attention to the hopeless effort to pass a federal marriage amendment, and to the equally unlikely effort to pass a state constitutional amendment. The only solution for preserving marriage, he said, was to “let the people vote.” He wanted to protect “democracy” … though he did not seem to care about the Constitution. Meanwhile, his Executive Office was busy behind the scenes implementing the marriage ruling.
He discounted the possibility of simply ignoring the illegitimate ruling, issuing a clarifying Executive Order that no same-sex marriages would occur, or supporting the grassroots effort to remove the errant judges. (He never explained what was wrong with any of those options.)
Romney’s misguided (or diversionary?) push for terribly flawed state marriage amendment proposals would go nowhere. (Recall that he had opposed the one good chance for a strong amendment in 2002.) The first Massachusetts “compromise amendment” he backed (2004-2005) was “designed to fail,” as it would have defined marriage as one man-one woman, but at the same time would have established totally equivalent “civil unions” for same-sex couples in the state Constitution. He lobbied Republican legislators to vote for it on its first legislative round, making the difference in its initial passage. (It was later voted down in the Legislature in late 2005.)
The second state amendment proposal he supported, VoteOnMarriage (2006-2007), was “too little, too late.” Homosexual activists around the country had plenty of time to ensure its defeat. In any case, it would not have banned civil unions or dismantled the earlier “gay marriages” that had taken place, ensuring later legal challenges. It went down to a humiliating defeat just months after Romney left office.
Romney made no bully-pulpit speeches in Massachusetts for traditional marriage. He held only one press conference in June 2005 (for the kickoff of the VoteOnMarriage effort), and went to only two rallies – one a nationally televised event sponsored by the Family Research Council (whose support he was courting as a Presidential candidate) in October 2006; and his own “Rally for Democracy” to push the Legislature to act on the VoteOnMarriage amendment in November 2006. But that latter event was really the kickoff for his Presidential campaign, as he stood Patton-like before an enormous American flag draping the State House just a month before his term ended.
Mitt Romney wasted no time talking up his presidential bid online, hitting conservative blogs yesterday with advertisements portraying him as Reagan-style Republican ready to take on “jihadists.”... Romney’s ads carry a photograph [from the rally] of his face with the American flag shown in the backdrop... The ad has been posted on about 23 blogs so far, said Kevin Madden, a spokesman for the Romney committee. (Boston Herald, Jan. 5, 2007)
Romney also made a show of filing suit against the Legislature (in late 2006) to force their vote on the amendment. In their open letter (given out at CPAC), his “conservative” supporters make much of the fact that the Governor:
Filed suit before the Supreme Judicial Court asking the court to clarify the legislators' duty to vote and failing that, to place the amendment on the 2008 ballot. That lawsuit, perhaps more than any other single action, was by all accounts instrumental in bringing the ultimate pressure on the legislators to vote. The SJC unanimously ruled that the Legislature must vote and the historic vote was taken on January 2, 2007 winning legislative support. This cleared a major hurdle in the three year effort to restore traditional marriage in the Commonwealth.
But it was Ed Pawlick who originally petitioned the SJC in 2002 for an opinion in that regard, after the Legislature refused to vote on the 2002 Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage amendment. (Romney had opposed that amendment as “too extreme” for its ban on civil unions.) The SJC agreed with Pawlick that the Legislature had an obligation to vote. Romney's petition was thus unnecessary.
Note that Romney's supporters fail to mention that the VoteOnMarriage effort met its final doom in June 2007 (six months after Romney left office) when it failed to get a mere 25% vote in the Legislature. Yet, his supporters portray this as a grand victory in the “effort to restore traditional marriage”! Romney assured the concerned citizens of Massachusetts in 2005 that he was “convinced it will pass.”
In neither of the two rallies Romney attended in late 2006 did he talk about the Constitutionality of the “gay marriage” ruling or its implementation, or make a strong argument for preserving marriage (other than “it’s for the children”).
At the federal level: Romney’s June 2004 testimony before the U.S. Senate for a federal marriage amendment was his only extended argument for traditional marriage. It opens with a lecture on tolerance and an indictment of traditionalists who disapprove of homosexuality, implying that they may be haters and bigots:
You have asked for my perspectives on the recent inauguration of same sex marriage in my state. This is a subject about which people have tender emotions in part because it touches individual lives. It also has been misused by some as a means to promote intolerance and prejudice. This is a time when we must fight hate and bigotry, when we must root out prejudice, when we must learn to accept people who are different from one another. Like me, the great majority of Americans wish both to preserve the traditional definition of marriage and to oppose bias and intolerance directed towards gays and lesbians.
Romney’s testimony was delivered about a month after his illegal “gay marriages” had begun in Massachusetts, due only to his unconstitutional executive department actions. But he places the blame on the Court’s “decision,” as if the “inauguration of same sex marriage” just magically began with no help from him.
Inexplicably, he points out that the Massachusetts Court was out of bounds: It “launched beyond our constitution.” He understands that the Court violated the original intent of the founders. He asks, “Should we abandon marriage as we know it and as it was known by the framers of our constitution?” (It is legally significant that the word “marriage” is included in the Massachusetts Constitution.) He notes that the separation of powers should prevent such power grabs by the Court. But that would only work if the Governor had not also acted beyond his authority, and he had done his duty to check the Court. Romney told the Senators:
The constitution’s framers recognized that any one of the three branches of government might overstep its separated powers. If Congress oversteps, the Court can intervene. If the Executive overreaches, Congress may impeach. And if the Court launches beyond the constitution, the legislative branch may amend.
The four Massachusetts justices launched beyond our constitution. That is why the Massachusetts legislature has begun the lengthy amendment process. [Emphasis added.]
Note that he neglects to say: If the Court overreaches, the Executive can refuse to enforce its opinion as if it were law. And judges can be impeached. Amending the Constitution is not the only solution, and certainly should not be the first resort.
Romney’s main argument for marriage is that children need a father and mother. He also briefly mentions that religious, charitable or “virtuous” institutions would be affected if marriage is challenged – the sentence featured in his recent press release. He makes no mention of sexual morality or the public health concerns related to aberrant homosexual practices. He even implies that if children were not involved, it might be all right for the judges to focus on just the “rights of adults” – including the “rights” of homosexuals:
Were generations that spanned thousands of years from all the civilizations of the world wrong about marriage? Are the philosophies and teachings of all the world’s major religions simply wrong?
Or is it more likely that four people among the seven that sat in a court in Massachusetts have erred? I believe that is the case. And I believe their error was the product of seeing only a part, and not the entirety. They viewed marriage as an institution principally designed for adults. Adults are who they saw. Adults stood before them in the courtroom. And so they thought of adult rights, equal rights for adults. If heterosexual adults can marry, then homosexual adults must also marry to have equal rights.
But marriage is not solely for adults. Marriage is also for children. In fact, marriage is principally for the nurturing and development of children. The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother.
So, Romney’s primary argument for preserving traditional marriage hinges on the proper family environment for raising children. But if this is so, how can he favor “domestic partnerships” and “civil unions” which also involve children in a home situation? How can he be fine with adoption by same-sex couples? How can he answer the homosexual activists’ challenge: What about infertile or older couples who can’t have children, and how are their marriages justified while same-sex couples’ would not be? He apparently cannot answer these questions.
Romney’s press release accompanying his CPAC speech proudly includes a quote from Maggie Gallagher (Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, and co-founder of National Organization for Marriage) on his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony. She said then that it was “the single most eloquent and articulate defense of our traditional understanding of marriage I have heard from an American politician.” Gallagher is pro-“tolerance” and agrees with Romney’s premise that there’s no inherent problem with homosexual unions, and that it’s primarily the involvement of children that creates an issue. But her praise of his testimony came just a month after she had criticized his actions implementing “gay marriage”:
Take a look at the new unisex marriage licenses that Gov. Romney has decided (without any authorization by the state legislature) to create. Gone is the language of bride and groom, husband and wife, replaced by the new, deeply moving announcement that “Party A” is going to join with “Party B” in something the court insists we call marriage.
[Note: Gallagher recently contacted MassResistance for information and clarification on the historical detail on Romney’s role in the constitutional crisis. (She was not on the scene in Massachusetts during the crisis.) Shortly after reading our detailed information, she endorsed Rick Santorum.]
ROMNEY CLAIMED: He “successfully prohibited out-of-state couples from coming to our state to get married and then go home. On my watch, we fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.”
The TRUTH: The regulations his office drew up had loopholes allowing for lax enforcement, and Gov. Romney said that the Commonwealth would not pursue couples who broke the law.
Governor Romney dug up a little noted section in the Massachusetts marriage statute (the “1913 law”) banning out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if that marriage would not be legal in their home state. Yet he missed the part about marriage being between a man and a woman – still on the books since the Legislature never changed the law. And, of course, he missed the separation of powers clauses in the Constitution which barred the “gay marriages” from happening without Legislative action.
Why the hyper-focus on one section of the marriage statute, while not even considering the overarching constitutional principles? The AP reported (March 2004): “There is a section in the state constitution that gives the governor the power to weigh in on the ‘causes of marriage,’ but Romney said he had not explored whether this clause gives him any legal power to stop gay marriages.”
And for all the fuss over the 1913 law, the Governor’s regulations (issued for Town Clerk training sessions in May 2004) did not require documentary proof that a couple was actually resident in the state. A couple’s word was all that was needed and town clerks could exercise discretion on residency proof, said Romney’s Chief Legal Counsel. The Boston Globe reported:
Romney stressed that he would not move to punish out-of-state couples. Their marriages do “no harm to the Commonwealth,” he said. “The consequences of people not following the law unfortunately is falling on the couples that are entering into a relationship,” Romney said. “The Commonwealth, I don’t imagine, is planning to challenge those marriages.”
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “When I am President, I will preserve the Defense of Marriage Act and I will fight for a federal amendment defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.”
The TRUTH: Passage of a federal amendment is very difficult and highly unlikely, and its wording unsettled. (Would it allow “civil unions,” for instance?) How does Romney answer challenges to DOMA from homosexuals now serving openly in the military (a policy he now supports)?
The likelihood of a federal marriage amendment passing is very slim. In any case, any proposed amendment would likely not ban civil unions (given the recent and curious liberalizing trend in the large "pro-family" organizations). The long-term solution lies in controlling the Courts. And Romney’s record on judicial and legal appointments in Massachusetts makes one doubt his reliability on future judicial nominations.
The National Organization for Marriage, whose pledge Romney signed in 2011, does not even show the text of the federal amendment in that pledge (or on their website). Will it specifically ban marriage-equivalent “civil unions” or not?
What will Romney’s position be on recognition of same-sex marriages within the military, now that open service by homosexuals is allowed (and he now has no problem with that)? Is he fine with homosexual servicemen and women receiving full marriage benefits (housing, medical, survivor benefits, etc)? Homosexual activists are already fighting DOMA since it denies them this “full equality” in the military. This presents Romney with another clash of his stated positions: Can he be pro gays in the military and pro DOMA at the same time?
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “During my time in office, I stood up to those who wanted to call into question the very definition of life. I vetoed a bill that would have opened the door to cloning and embryo farming. I vetoed a bill that would have allowed young girls to gain access to abortion-inducing drugs.”
The TRUTH re: “the very definition of life” – There are many reasons to doubt Romney’s pro-life commitment. (Only some are noted in the sections below.)
It’s hard to analyze any of Romney’s pro-life claims given his overall unclean record. How believable is his recent conversion – based on confronting an abstraction (microscopic embryo research) – while for years he had been immune to graphic descriptions and images of small humans being ripped to pieces? His current statements that abortion should be left to the states to decide, and that exceptions may be made in the cases of rape and incest, should be enough to establish that he is nottruly pro-life. His claims in this speech will be analyzed in five sections below:
The TRUTH: He did state his opposition to human cloning, but approves of some human embryo research.
While he has stated his opposition to cloning, he noted an exception on embryo research. Romney wrote in an op-ed in the Boston Globein 2005: “Stem cell research does not require the cloning of human embryos. Some stem cells today are obtained from surplus embryos from in-vitro fertilization. I support that research…”
The TRUTH: He worked himself into a corner with conflicting promises (as a candidate in 2002), that he would expand distribution of this pill, and that he would not change abortion laws during his term. He did veto the bill in 2005 which would have expanded distribution, but made no reference to religious liberty during the debate. A few months later, he contradicted himself and was again working to expand distribution.
In 2002 when running for Governor, Romney promised NARAL he would “support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception.” This is also referred to as the “morning-after pill” or “Plan B.”
Fitting in with that promise, Romney never complained about the 2002 Massachusetts law passed under his predecessor, Acting Governor Jane Swift, “which essentially mirrored Obama's proposal…. Romney did not seek its repeal.” Yet, he recently “faulted President Barack Obama's original push to require church-affiliated employers to pay for birth control as an ‘assault on religion.’ ” (Steve LeBlanc, AP)
That 2002 Massachusetts law requires employers purchasing insurance plans in the state to cover general contraceptive services. The Wall Street Journal explains that,
The Boston Globe reports:
Besides his promise to expand “emergency contraception” access, Romney also vowed in 2002 not to change the state’s abortion laws in any way if elected. But that would become a problem after his (supposed) conversion, if he were to view the “morning-after pill” as an abortifacient. “Those two promises clashed when the Massachusetts House and Senate approved the emergency contraception bill” in 2005. (LeBlanc)
In July 2005 Romney vetoed that “emergency contraception” bill, which,
Romney stated at the time that the bill did not apply to private religious hospitals.
The “emergency contraceptive” bill was first introduced in 2003. Romney took no public position on the bill as it worked its way through the legislature. “The bill had veto-proof support in both chambers of the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2005. In July, the House and Senate reached a compromise on it that would protect Catholic hospitals from being forced to act against their faith.” (Jeffrey)
Romney’s explained his veto in a Boston Globe op-ed in July 2005:
So, his veto was based on his 2002 promise that he would not change Massachusetts laws relating to abortion, not because of his new pro-life beliefs or wanting to protect parental rights. His determination that the morning-after pill could result in an early abortion triggered his veto, in line with that promise. But he also curiously notes his concern that it would allow young teenagers to bypass parental involvement.
Note: If his pro-life conversion was sincere, how could he stand by that 2002 political promise not to change the laws? Shouldn’t his new understanding of an overarching moral principle to protect life take precedence?
Note: In a 2002 debate, candidate Romney had no problem with a teen under 18 getting a judge’s permission for an abortion, if her parents objected. Thus, young teens could already bypass their parents to get an abortion (and Romney had promised not to change existing law). Yet Romney mentions teen access to the morning-after pill as a problem in this op-ed. Did he really recognize the “importance of parental involvement”?
Note: Romney doesn’t touch on religious liberty in the op-ed. “But then, the bill, as the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and the House majority leader understood it, did not allow coercion of Catholic hospitals.” (Jeffrey.)
His veto was overridden. Then in October 2005, he actually “reversed his own July 2005 veto against abortifacients by signing [a] bill seeking a federal waiver to expand distribution of Plan B abortifacients.” (Boston Catholic Insider) The Boston Globe reported:
He was praised by the Massachusetts Planned Parenthood director and pro-abortion lobbyists for signing the bill.
That quiet October 2005 flip-flop was soon to be followed by a whopper in December 2005.
Catholic hospitals and the morning-after pill flip-flop
The TRUTH: The law mandating availability of the morning-after pill (passed in 2005 over his veto) did not apply to Catholic Hospitals, and Romney at first agreed. But in a matter of days (bowing to pressure from pro-abortion forces), he flip-flopped, overthrowing his own DPH legal analysis and producing a new contradictory analysis from his Chief Legal Counsel. He then forced Catholic Hospitals to offer the morning-after pill (Dec. 2005).
The December 30, 2011 “open letter” by Romney’s supporters (handed out at CPAC) makes no mention of a scandal he would like voters to forget: his flip-flop on whether or not Catholic Hospitals had to dispense the morning-after pill (aka “emergency contraception” or “Plan B”).
Shortly before the July 2005 “emergency contraceptive” law was to take effect, in December 2005, the Boston Globe reported that Romney’s own Department of Public Health’s legal analysis showed that the new law “does not nullify a statute passed years ago  that says privately run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception.” Terry Jeffrey summarizes:
Note: Romney here stated his belief that abortion is acceptable in cases of rape – that “it's the right thing” for hospitals to give information on and access to the morning-after pill in such cases.
Romney caved the minute the liberal press and pro-abortion forces piled on. He clearly failed to protect religious freedom, forcing Catholic hospitals to offer the morning-after pill, and flip-flopping on the issue in just a few days’ time. “A Boston Herald editorial (Dec. 9, 2005) characterized it: ‘Flip, flop, flip… Romney has now executed an Olympic-caliber double flip-flop with a gold medal performance twist-and-a-half.’ ”
Catholic activist, C. J. Doyle, seconds this opinion:
Patrick Tracey also quotes Doyle:
Romney’s current defense for overturning his DPH ruling and forcing the Catholic Hospitals to dispense the pills is tortuous to the point of absurdity: He couldn’t not force the hospitals because then the issue would wind up in court, and in a state with a pro-abortion Legislature, things would only get worse.
Elective abortions in RomneyCare
The TRUTH: Romney’s excuse that Court rulings forced the inclusion of elective abortions in the Massachusetts health care plan is false, since those rulings referenced only “medically necessary abortions,” and could have been challenged in any case.
On his support for taxpayer-funded abortions, his Massachusetts “conservative” supporters write in their December 2011 “open letter” (handed out at CPAC):
These Court rulings on abortion coverage could have been challenged. But in any case, they were specific to “medically necessary abortions.” ProlifeProfiles.com explains:
RomneyCare wrote Planned Parenthood into the law as part of the permanent “advisory board” for the public health insurance system, which Romney did not object to. And what services would PP be likely to demand as benefits? Obviously, contraception, abortifacients, and abortions.
RomneyCare, subsidized by taxpayers, extended coverage to include any abortion, not just “medically necessary abortions.”
RomneyCare opened the door to mandated benefits
The TRUTH: Romney opposed mandated benefit requirements during the design phase of RomneyCare on economic (but not religious or ideological) grounds. He accepted the final product when he could have vetoed it.
Romney, in acquiescing on a state-run health system, opened the door to mandated abortion coverage and other objectionable mandated benefits.
What benefits would the state plan cover, and what was Governor Romney’s opinion on mandates? Shira Schoenberg (Boston Globe) reports:
Steve LeBlanc (AP) writes:
Romney could have vetoed the final version of RomneyCare, but instead he signed it.
A Family Research Council study notes, “… there is no provision in the law for a subscriber’s right of conscience. Without a conscience provision, the individual mandate can lead to abhorrent consequences that make a mockery of its justification on grounds of personal responsibility.”
In the end, for all his supposed pro-life principles, Massachusetts wound up with more taxpayer subsidized contraception and abortion coverage.
Governor Romney played with a top-down government healthcare system and lost, going down without a real fight.
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “I fought for abstinence education in our public schools.”
The TRUTH: It was not an “abstinence only” approach; it did not say “wait until marriage”; it was “LGBT-friendly”; it lasted only two years; it included “peer teaching” by 12-14 year olds; and it was limited to very few middle schools in the state.
His “conservative” supporters write in their December 2011 open letter (handed out at CPAC): “In 2006, under Governor Romney's leadership, Massachusetts' public schools began to offer a classroom program on abstinence from the faith-based Boston group Healthy Futures to middle school students.”
For his first several years as Governor (beginning 2003), Romney had ignored the issue and allowed his DPH to spend federal dollars without his input. The Governor then tried to push the abstinence program as a bill before the Legislature in 2005, with great fanfare. “Romney lost the battle, but succeeded in bringing the issue to the front of public debate.” (The issue could help build his conservative credentials.)
He could have simply ordered his Department of Public Health or Department of Education to implement it earlier. Brian Camenker of MassResistance asked the Governor’s staff about that at the time, and they simply shrugged their shoulders.
The small program (reaching “up to 9,000 public school students”) only lasted two years. The program directed $800,000 of federal funds to classroom programs. Formerly the funding had gone to media programs.
Romney’s efforts resulted in a watered-down abstinence program to “be taught in addition to comprehensive sex education programs already in place [in which] … students will still learn about contraception methods.” (Scott Helman, Boston Globe) It was only going to be used in a few districts with high teen-pregnancy rates. “The governor said the money would be offered to all school districts, which could still teach existing sex education classes.”
While running for Governor, Romney told Planned Parenthood in April 2002 that he would “support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools.” (Helman) This “comprehensive” sex education is just what his supposed abstinence program did.
The Romney program seems to match his promise to Planned Parenthood. But the director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts complained that “he seems to be using Massachusetts as his launching pad to run a presidential campaign, and he’s got a different message” from when he agreed with their group in 2002. (Helman) But NARAL’s own site shows that he had promised them to “support comprehensive, age-appropriate family life/sexuality education in the public schools, and oppose 'abstinence-only' sexuality programs.” But in fact, he did not have an abstinence-only program and made that clear, so NARAL’s complaint is confusing.
Announcing the award of the abstinence education contract on his Commonwealth PAC site in April 2006, he stated, “It’s time for an abstinence program … to join other forms of sex education in the classroom.” Elsewhere, he stated, “It's not abstinence only. It’s abstinence also.”
So, the Governor’s message was: It’s OK to have sex as long as you’ve graduated from high school. Not: Wait until after marriage.
From Governor Romney’s April 20, 2006 press release:
The self-esteem building program included peer teaching on sexuality issues:
Apparently, 12 to 14-year-olds were deemed thoroughly qualified to teach abstinence and other “sexual health issues” to each other.
The Boston LGBT newspaper, Bay Windows, blew the lid on what was really going on in Healthy Futures, the group running Romney’s supposed “abstinence” curriculum. Its director admitted she did not believe abstinence-only message was effective. Not only was the program “LGBT inclusive,” it said nothing about waiting until marriage before sexual activity. From April 2007, a few months after Romney’s term ended:
Romney’s support for “comprehensive sex education” tripped him up in his 2007 campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination. Candidate Romney criticized candidate Obama for supporting “age-appropriate” sex education starting in kindergarten. Many pointed out that Romney had supported that himself, pointing to the Planned Parenthood 2002 questionnaire (noted above). The Boston Globe reported:
Note: As Governor, Romney gave no support to the pro-family groups and citizens opposing Planned Parenthood’s repeated legislative attempts to make this curriculum framework mandatory in all Massachusetts schools. (Romney vs. Family Values)
In 1994 when he ran for U.S. Senate, Romney had no problem with schools handing out condoms. From his 1994 interview with the sexual-radical newspaper, Bay Windows:
He also said in 1994 that schools should teach “the importance of getting married before having children.” (Boston Herald) But not before becoming sexually active?
ROMNEY CLAIMED: “And I defended the Catholic Church’s right to serve their community in ways that were consistent with their conscience through adoption programs that placed children in a home with a mom and a dad.”
The TRUTH: Romney only posed as a defender of the Catholic Charities. There was no law, only administrative regulations, dictating non-discrimination re: adoptive placements with same-sex couples – which the Governor could revise. The “religious freedom” bill he filed was an empty PR stunt and was dead on arrival. In any case, Catholic Charities’ right to set its policies was already protected in our constitutions.
This claim is the height of grandstanding and hypocrisy.
This scandal erupted in 2006, when Catholic Charities said it would stick to a policy of denying adoptive placements to same-sex couples. A media firestorm ensued, with accusations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
But there was no law requiring Catholic Charities to include homosexuals as adoptive parents. There were only administrative regulations that mentioned “sexual orientation” non-discrimination – which Romney could have changed at any time via executive order. The Catholic Conference attorney, various commentators, and even former Democrat Gov. Michael Dukakis admitted this. (Romney vs. Family Values)
Since there was no law restricting Catholic Charities’ right to place children as they wished, Romney’s “Act Protecting Religious Freedom” was a phony bill whose text in fact would have changed nothing. Romney knew that it would die in the Legislature anyway, so it was just a public relations gesture. Further, the Mass. Constitution Declaration of Rights and federal Bill of Rights already gave adequate protection for the free exercise of religion.
C. J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts explained at the time:
During this crisis, Romney also confirmed he believed that same-sex couples had a “legitimate interest” in adoptions.
Some conservative commentators, including Maggie Gallagher (Weekly Standard) and Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review Online), bought the line that the Governor was just enforcing the laws of Massachusetts, but did what he could to defend religious liberty. (Even if there had been a law specific to this, it would have been an unconstitutional violation of the freedom of religion.)
“Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks at CPAC,” MittRomney.com, Feb. 10, 2012.
“Gov. Mitt Romney Fought for Conservative Values in a Deep Blue State,” MittRomney.com, Feb. 10, 2012.
2002 Massachusetts Governor candidates’ debate – Video: Romney vows to protect “pro-choice” laws and under-18 teen’s ability to get abortion with judge’s assent (if no parental permission).
Gov. Romney’s statement on the Goodridge “gay marriage” ruling, Nov. 18, 2003 – Video.
"Preserving Traditional Marriage: A View from the States" – Testimony of Governor Mitt Romney before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, June 22, 2004.
Gov. Mitt Romney, “The problem with the stem cell bill,” Boston Globe, Mar. 6, 2005.
Gov. Mitt Romney, “Why I vetoed contraception bill,” Boston Globe, July 26, 2005.
ProlifeProfiles.com (Romney page).
Stephanie Ebbert, “Romney signs bill on family planning; Antiabortion groups criticize the decision,” Boston Globe, Oct. 15, 2005.
“Romney Does Flip-Flop and Forces Catholic Hospitals to Distribute Morning-After-Pill,” LifeSite News, Dec 9, 2005.
Gov. Mitt Romney, Speech at “Liberty Sunday” (Family Research Council event, Boston), Oct. 15, 2006.
Gov. Mitt Romney, Speech at “Rally for Democracy” at State House, Nov. 19, 2006.
“Pro-family advocates misrepresent Romney’s record on life, marriage,” Boston Catholic Insider, Jan. 9, 2012.
“Former Vatican Ambassadors, pro-family advocates misrepresent Romney record on defense of marriage,” Boston Catholic Insider, Jan. 10, 2012.
Terry Jeffrey, “Romney Told Catholic Hospitals to Administer Abortion Pills,” TownHall.com, Feb. 2, 2012.
David French, “Mitt Romney Defended Rights of Conscience in Massachusetts,” National Review, Feb. 3, 2012.
Jon Ward, “Mitt Romney Attacked For Massachusetts Emergency Contraception Decision,” Huffington Post, Feb. 7, 2012.
Patrick Tracey, “On birth control, Romney mirrored Obama; An antiabortion leader in Massachusetts recalls an ‘injury to Catholic religious freedom’ under Mitt Romney,” Salon.com, Feb. 8, 2012.
Katrina Trinko, “Romney: Flip-Flopping on Contraception?” National Review, Feb. 11, 2012.
Steve LeBlanc, “Mitt Romney Attacks Obama Birth Control Proposal Despite Being Silent On Similar Law As Governor,” Associated Press, at Huffington Post, Feb. 11, 2012.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Romney’s Path to ‘Pro-Life’ Position on Abortion,” New York Times, Feb. 11, 2012.
Ben Johnson, “Did Mitt Romney force Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B? Mass. Catholic leader says ‘yes’,” LifeSiteNews.com, Feb. 13, 2012.