We’ve witnessed many Mitt Romneys, but the one unearthed by the Boston Globe’s Murray Waas yesterday is perhaps the most vicious and cruel: a zealot who, as Massachusetts governor, became hellbent on stigmatizing the children of gay and lesbian parents, labeling these kids as outcasts and causing them to suffer hardship throughout their lives.
Waas reveals how, after gays and lesbians in Massachusetts won the right to marry in 2003, Governor Romney wouldn’t allow the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise birth certificate forms for babies born to same-sex couples. The plan was to have the box for “father,” for example, relabeled “father or second parent.” But according to documents obtained by Waas, Romney rejected the plan, demanding the agency continue using old forms. Romney then demanded hospitals get permission from his office each time a child was born to a same sex-couple in order to cross out, with a pen, the label “father” or “mother,” and write-in, with a pen, “second parent.” (Romney also required gay male parents to get a court order before any birth certificate was issued.)
Those children would then go through life with birth certificates that marked them as strange, abnormal, less than everyone else, punished because Romney didn’t approve of their parents. As a Department of Health attorney warned Romney, the children would be disadvantaged and would have trouble applying to school or getting drivers licenses as adults, particularly in a post-9/11 world where they might be considered security risks, having birth certificates that appeared altered. It was a “violation of existing statutes,” the attorney warned Romney. But Romney waved off the warnings, not caring about the the legal, psychological or personal ramifications.
Romney hadn’t even previously fathomed that gay people had children. Boston Spirit magazinereported last month that when gay activists met with him in his office in 2004, as Romney was backing a failed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, Romney remarked, “I didn’t know you had families.” Julie Goodridge, lead plaintiff in the landmark case that won marriage rights for gays and lesbians before the Supreme Judicial Court, asked what she should tell her 8-year-old daughter about why the governor would block the marriage of her parents. According to Goodridge, Romney responded,”I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”
Romney’s retort enraged a speechless Goodridge; he didn’t care, and by referring to her biological daughter as “adopted,” it was clear he hadn’t even been listening. By the time she was back in the hallway, she was reduced to tears. “I really kind of lost it,” says Goodridge. “I’ve never stood before someone who had no capacity for empathy.”
Months after his battle with the Registry of Vital Records began, as Wass reports in the Globe, Romney spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington:
He outlined his misgivings about the request from the Registry of Vital Records. “The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother,” Romney said in his prepared remarks. “What should be the ideal for raising a child? Not a village, not ‘parent A’ and ‘parent B,’ but a mother and a father.” Romney also warned about the societal impact of gay parents raising children. “Scientific studies of children raised by same-sex couples are almost nonexistent,” he said. “It may affect the development of children and thereby future society as a whole.”
The following year, 2005, Romney spoke to conservative voters in South Carolina, as he trained his eye on the presidency. “Some gays are actually having children born to them,” he said. “It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.”
Does it really matter whether his actions and statements were motivated by Romney’s authoritarian Mormon faith or were a pander to evangelicals as he sought the presidency, or both? That he could be so zealous, cold-hearted and cruel should alarm everyone about the prospect of Mitt Romney becoming president.