Sunday, December 10, 2006

Romney the Flip-Flopper

What a difference a day makes. Just 22 hours ago the headlines were "Romney charms key Bush backers," and now we read "Romney Letter Angers Conservatives." So what's all the fuss about? It seems that Mitt Romney, a potential candidate for the 2008 GOP nomination for president, has been caught flip-flopping on the gay rights issue.

This is the same Mitt Romney who has filed a suit with the Massachusetts supreme court to make sure that a constitutional ban overturning same-sex marriage in the state makes it to the ballot, in spite of the legislature abandoning it. This is the governor who opposed same sex marriages vociferously the last few years, in a rather obvious attempt to improve his social-conservative credentials for his presidential bid. A guy who supports a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

In a story which has been simmering for several days and is now breaking at the Associated Press, and has been picked up by ("More Romney Gay Doublespeak Surfaces"), it is revealed that Romney had courted the LGBT vote in 1994 when he was running for Senate opposite Ted Kennedy. Said Romney, in an interview with Bay Windows (the largest New England LGBT newspaper) during that campaign:
more . . .
When I speak of free agency, I don’t just mean that each person can do what they want to do, I mean that our society should allow people to make their own choices and live by their own beliefs. People of integrity don’t force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have. That’s the great thing about this country: it was founded to allow people to follow beliefs of their own conscience. I will work and have worked to fight discrimination and to assure each American equal opportunity.
And in a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans:
We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern . . .
adding that he would be more aggressive than Senator Kennedy in pushing for gay rights.

The Bay Windows story ("Romney Is A Big Fat Liar") gives the most complete coverage, including the text of their 1994 interview.

Though never fully in support of most gay rights, the turnaround in his positions in the last three to ten years is nevertheless breathtaking. And while we here at Outright Libertarians are not too surprised to find a Republican that gave up on promoting legal equality for all people (such as he may or may not have believed in when running for office in a liberal state), it seems the people he is really shocking are the national social-conservative base he was building. Not only is it surfacing that Romney was not always virulently anti-gay, it also seems he used to be . . . pro-choice (oh! no!). Quoting from the A.P. article:
The New York Times reported Saturday that the Family Research Council, among others, expressed disappointment with the contents of the Romney letter.

"This is quite disturbing,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "This type of information is going to create a lot of problems for Governor Romney. He is going to have a hard time overcoming this."
Wouldn't it be ironic if it were the Religious Right he has been so actively courting that killed Romney's chance at the presidency?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Free Markets, Free Gay People: Part II

As we look over the comical landscape of "liberals" defending the perpetuation of anti-gay policies in the military that are opposed by 80% of the population, citing "controversy," and Democratic leaders introducing a whole host of new anti-gay laws (after campaigning against homophobic Republicans as the "non-homophobic" party), it's instructive to see how gays are advancing in the private sector.

Fortune delivers the latest look at gays in the private sector:

Last June the gay rights movement quietly achieved a milestone: For the first time, more than half of Fortune 500 companies - 263, to be precise - offered health benefits for domestic partners, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Ten years ago only 28 did.

Along with health benefits for their families, many workers also get bereavement leave when their same-sex partner dies, adoption assistance or paid leave if they have children and relocation assistance for their partners if they are transferred. Put another way, gay marriage - an idea that has been banned by all but one of 27 states that have voted on it - has become a fact of life inside many big companies.

"Corporate America is far ahead of America generally when it comes to the question of equality for GLBT people," says Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Solmonese is right. The nation's Roman Catholic bishops last month advised gays to be celibate because the church considers their sexuality "disordered." Prominent evangelical minister Ted Haggard stepped down from his church after he was accused of having an affair with a gay man. Social conservatives flock to the polls to oppose gay marriage.

Business is different. "It's not a faith-based community," says Ed Offshack, a chemical engineer and gay activist at Procter & Gamble (Charts). "It's a logic-based community." The changes in attitudes toward gays and lesbians have been swift, deep, and altogether remarkable. People who once were shunned and then merely tolerated are today being embraced by corporate America. Yes, embraced.

The article is definitely worth a read. And while big-government sorts in the old parties express shock and amazement that free market enterprise is light years ahead of big, centrally-planned government programs run by politicians, we Libertarians just grin, nod, and wink.

As always, free markets equal free people.