Mitt Romney responded to President Obama’s personal support for the legalization of gay marriage Wednesday by reaffirming his opposition to legalized same-sex unions of any kind, and suggesting Obama is a flip-flopper for “evolving” his stance.
“I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor,” Romney told reporters at a campaign stop in Oklahoma. “I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. I know other people have differing views.”
Romney supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the U.S., and has also said he’s opposed to civil unions that would legally recognize a same-sex relationship. He has said in the past that he supports some domestic partner benefits, like hospital visitation rights.
“This a very tender and sensitive topic as are many social issues,” Romney said, “but I have the same views I’ve had since running for office.”
Romney would not directly knock Obama for being inconsistent on same-sex marriage, but the inference was clear.
“I believe that based upon the interview he gave today on ABC, it said that he had changed his view,” Romney said. “But you’re a better judge of that than I.”
While it’s true that Obama has held different opinions on the subject — he indicated support for legalized gay marriage in a 1996 survey, but would go only as far as supporting civil unions in 2008 while running for president, Obama has been consistent on the broader topic of expanding protections for gay citizens. He has made good on that support while in office in a number of areas, most notably ending the military’s ban on openly gay service members.
Romney on the other hand, campaigned during his ill-fated Senate run in 1994 on the promise that he would be a better ally to the gay community than incumbent Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). It’s true that back then he was also opposed to same-sex marriage. But since campaigning as a pro-gay rights candidate, Romney has said he would not have ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and signed a pledge to support an amendment to the Constitution that would legally define marriage as between a man and woman.
Romney has expressed pride on the campaign trail in 2012 over fighting to prevent gay marriage from becoming law in Massachusetts while he was governor. The Massachusetts Supreme Court paved the way for the state to become the first to issue same-sex marriage licenses in 2004. Romney tried to block the ruling from taking effect.
“On my watch, we fought hard and prevented Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage,” he said at CPAC in February. “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.”
Obama’s Justice Department is no longer defending DOMA in court, one of many pro-gay rights decisions by the Obama administration hailed by LGBT advocates.
In the hours following Obama’s announcement Wednesday, Republicans sought to cast Obama’s support for marriage equality as a craven political move aimed, in part, at appeasing his LGBT and allied donor base. Romney appears see the move as a chance to cast Obama as a flip-flopper, a charge Romney has faced since first declaring a run for the White House back before 2008.