Rick Santorum on Thursday claimed that
Mitt Romney helped advance gay marriage in Massachusetts while he was
During last night's GOP presidential
debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Fox News' Chris Wallace questioned Romney
on what he meant when he told a gay GOP group in 1994 that he would
do more for “full equality” for gay men and lesbians than his
opponent, Senator Ted Kennedy.
Romney explained that as a Republican
his support for the gay community – in terms of non-discrimination
measures, not marriage rights – would be more valuable than
Kennedy's backing because he, as a Democrat, “would be expected to
Unsatisfied, Santorum alleged that
Romney in fact helped advance gay marriage in Massachusetts.
“Romney, when he was governor of
Massachusetts, was faced with a Supreme Court decision that said that
traditional marriage was unconstitutional. In that court decision,
the court said that they did not have the power to change the law in
Massachusetts and rule same-sex marriage legal. Why? Because in the
Massachusetts Constitution it states specifically that only the
governor and the legislature can change marriage laws. The court
then gave the legislature a certain amount of time to change the law.
They did not.”
“So Governor Romney was faced with a
choice. Go along with the court or go along with the constitution
and the statute. He chose the court and ordered people to issue gay
marriage licenses. And went beyond that. He personally, as
governor, issued gay marriage licenses.”
“I don't think that is an accurate
representation of his position of saying tolerance versus
substantively changing the laws.
Romney described Santorum's retelling
as a “novel understanding” of the events.
“The Supreme Court of Massachusetts
determined that under our constitution same-sex marriage was
required,” Romney said in his rebuttal. “And the idea that that
somehow that was up to me to make a choice as to whether we had it or
not was a little unusual.” (The video is embedded in the right
panel of this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
Both candidates claimed they have a
consistent record of opposing marriage equality.
As governor of the first state to
legalize gay marriage in 2004, Romney granted special waivers that
allowed a non-clergy individual to solemnize a marriage. The One Day
Marriage Designation, however, is not a marriage license. The
application does ask for the name, address and date of birth of the
couple he/she wishes to marry. Which means Romney could have known
that some couples were gay or lesbian.