The Romney I Battled Compared Marriage Equality for LGBT People to Slavery
In offering up last week's "qualified endorsement" of Mitt Romney for president, the Log Cabin Republicans alleged that "as his record as Governor of Massachusetts suggests, [Romney] will not waste his precious time in office with legislative attacks on LGBT Americans." As soon as I read that, I knew I had to speak out. When Romney was governor, I headed up MassEquality, the campaign in Massachusetts to protect the nation's first freedom-to-marry court ruling. We then took on a broader portfolio, tackling LGBT equality issues across the board. The Log Cabin assertion is wildly incorrect.
For most of his four years, Mitt Romney was relentlessly focused on taking away freedoms and protections from, and attacking, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents of Massachusetts. He went after the freedom to marry, gay parenting and support for vulnerable LGBT young people, moving away from the supportive environment created by the three governors who preceded him, all Republicans. And it wasn't only his stance on the issues that was problematic. It was his hostile approach. In Massachusetts, when Romney needed an easy target to boost his socially conservative credentials, more often than not he turned first to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and whacked away.
I will never forget the op-ed piece Romney wrote in the Wall Street Journal in February 2004. Titled " One Man, One Woman; A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Marriage," Romney likened the Goodridge marriage decision to the U.S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision. Here's what he wrote:
With the Dred Scott case, decided four years before he took office, President Lincoln faced a judicial decision that he believed was terribly wrong and badly misinterpreted the U.S. Constitution. Here is what Lincoln said: "If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal." By its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts circumvented the Legislature and the executive, and assumed to itself the power of legislating. That's wrong.
Romney could have chosen any example to highlight his concerns about judicial overreach, but the gall of using what is probably the most evil court decision in our country's history, the one that stated that blacks were property and were denied any protections by the Constitution, to decry a decision that freed gays and lesbians to pursue happiness and to have equal protection under the law is not just outrageous; it's despicable.
It was that awful comparison that finally spurred several of the plaintiffs in the Goodridge case to go in person to the governor's office to demand a meeting or, if they were denied, hold a press conference. They'd asked Romney time and again to get together with them and listen to them explain why marriage mattered so much to them, but he had ignored them. After staff told the plaintiffs that Romney was unavailable, they began the press conference, which drew attention from the State House press corps. Recognizing that Romney was about to be embarrassed, the staff changed course and invited the plaintiffs in to see the governor.
By now, you may have read some of the plaintiffs' accounts of that meeting. The attendees, several of whom are close friends and all colleagues in this struggle, told me how shocked they were by Romney's lack of any feeling, seriousness or empathy. They talked about the fact that they'd had many, many meetings with political leaders who didn't agree with them, but not a single one of them could remember a meeting with a political leader whose behavior was more dehumanizing or vacant.