The Corner

Asking and Telling

This AP story is timestamped 3:15 AM: “Conservatives say Romney needs to explain record on gay rights.” It begins:

“Conservatives concerned about inconsistencies in Republican Mitt Romney’s record on gay marriage and abortion said Tuesday the Massachusetts governor has some explaining to do.

For now, at least, the potential presidential candidate isn’t talking.”

Timestamped 5 A.M. on NRO, here’s some talking:

Lopez: As you know, in recent days the Boston Globe and the New York Times, as well as the Boston newspaper, Bay Windows, have run pieces about your 1994 race against Ted Kennedy and your run for governor that appear to be in conflict with your current position against gay marriage. Are they?

Gov. Romney: These old interviews and stories have frequently been circulated by my opponents ever since I took a stand against the Massachusetts supreme-court ruling on same-sex marriage. This being the political season, it is not surprising this old news has appeared again. But I have made clear since 2003, when the supreme court of Massachusetts redefined marriage by fiat, that my unwavering advocacy for traditional marriage stands side by side with a tolerance and respect for all Americans.

Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.

I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.

Lopez: And what about the 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans where you indicated you would support the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and seemed open to changing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military? Are those your positions today?

Gov. Romney: No. I don’t see the need for new or special legislation. My experience over the past several years as governor has convinced me that ENDA would be an overly broad law that would open a litigation floodgate and unfairly penalize employers at the hands of activist judges.

As for military policy and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, I trust the counsel of those in uniform who have set these policies over a dozen years ago. I agree with President Bush’s decision to maintain this policy and I would do the same.

And here’s one related exchange that would never happen with, say, an AP reporter:

Lopez: Congressman Harold Ford and 33 other Democrat House members voted for a federal marriage amendment this year; you don’t hear a whole lot of coverage of facts like that — or criticisms that they might be as mean and hateful as Republicans who vote similarly are regularly characterized. Does the mainstream media have double standards for Republicans?

Gov. Romney: Well, they do tend to ignore a lot of facts on this issue. How many people have heard that marriage amendments or referendums this year passed by large margins including by 84 percent in Tennessee; 84 percent in South Carolina, 58 percent in Virginia, and by 59 percent in Wisconsin? In 2004 similar measures passed by wide margins in 13 states. California passed a referendum by 61 percent opposing same-sex marriage in 2000. This is a mainstream issue on which most Americans are fairly united but coverage often doesn’t reflect that.

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