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Governor Mitt Romney Press Conference at Massachusetts State House, June 16, 2005


Gov. Romney answers questions
at press conference 6/16/05.

On formal announcement of petition for VoteOnMarriage amendment
[See entire text below]

POSTED: June 19, 2005  UPDATED: Dec. 20, 2011

Following the formal announcement of the citizens' initiative petition for the constitutional amendment regarding marriage, Gov. Mitt Romney gave a press conference at the State House.

MassResistance was there, tape recorded the proceedings, and took the photo on the right. We've highlighted some of the interesting parts of his talk.

In the press conference, Gov. Romney made several statements that we found troubling:

  1. He says he believes that people's choices to live public homosexual lifestyles should be "respected" and tolerated by society -- that homosexuality is not immoral and society should not treat it as such.
  2. He is "pleased" that the amendment does not rigidly limit marriage benefits to heterosexuals, but "allows legislature the to provide benefits and rights associated with same-sex couples."
  3. He thinks it is "wise" that the amendment does not dissolve current same-sex marriages, but allows them to continue to be legally recognized.
  4. He says that if the amendment were to pass, he would support domestic partner benefits for homosexual couples, to give them legal "rights and privileges," particularly because there will be children of same-sex couples and the state must also recognize same-sex parenting.
  5. He acknowledges that the court gave the legislature a period time to change the Massachusetts marriage statute to support "gay marriage" in order to "avoid these legal confusions." But the legislature has done nothing. So apparently Romney feels the need to address it.
  6. He says he does not support the Bill of Address, which is the Constitutional remedy for removing activist, corrupt judges, and which has been filed in the Legislature.

Text of press conference

Governor Romney (opening statement):

It's my understanding that the Massachusetts Family Institute has authored and is proposing an amendment relating to gay marriage. And there are a couple of things I'd like to say. First, I think it's important that in any discussion related to marriage that we should reiterate time and again our view that individuals in our society should be able to make the choices they want in their lives, and that we have respect for people's choices. We have a high degree of respect and tolerance for people whose lifestyle and choices and orientation is as they may choose. And therefore it's important that as we discuss matters of this nature that we always do so in a way that is respectful of other people's opinions, other people's choices, and other people's views.

My view is that marriage should be defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. I also maintain that something so fundamental to our society as marriage should be decided by the citizens, and not by a court with a one-justice majority. My preference is that when the issue is decided by the citizens, that it's a very clean, straightforward, unambiguous amendment which they have the opportunity to vote on, rather than something which is confused by multiple features being combined. And I'm concerned that the amendment currently under consideration in the legislature is somewhat confused or muddied by the combination of two things. One is the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, which I support. The other is the requirement that there be civil unions in the Commonwealth, which is a condition I do not support. For these reasons I am pleased that a new amendment has been brought forward that's quite clear, it defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, and it therefore would provide to the legislature the opportunity from time to time to provide benefits and rights associated with same-sex couples as the legislature and the administration felt appropriate.

I therefore support the Coalition for Marriage's proposed amendment. I believe it's superior to the amendment which is currently pending before the state legislature, and hope that this amendment will ultimately will be the one which the citizens have an opportunity to vote upon. With that, I'm happy to respond to questions that you may have.

Q: Governor, will you help out in this effort at all in radio or television ads, go out to the towns and cities of Massachusetts and urge voters to sign onto this, get the signatures, and what-not?

A: Well, I certainly support the amendment, I'll be managing my own campaign and working on campaigns for other Republican candidates. I don't anticipate being involved directly in campaign efforts for this amendment, but you know I wouldn't close the door on that necessarily. I just don't… I think this organization's shown in the past it's fully capable of gathering signatures and carrying out its campaign successfully, and I don't anticipate I'll be an active part of that.

Q: Have you or your administration been closely involved in moving forward with this amendment?

A: Actually not. My administration has not been involved actively in bringing forth this amendment. I think it's a superior amendment to what's being currently considered, but the provisions itself or themselves are something that I haven't been involved with. I'm sure members of my staff have been in touch with this group, and have been exchanging viewpoints. But that's not something I've put an active role in, or our administration's put an active role in. I'm pleased that it's come forward.

Q: Governor, Will you continue, as you have in the past, to strongly emphasize your opposition to gay marriage as you travel the country making "non-presidential" campaign appearances?

A: I will be happy to continue to emphasize my view that marriage should be a relationship between a man and a woman. And I hope the voters of Massachusetts get the same chance the voters in 11 other states got last year, and that is the chance to preserve marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, which of course passed in all 11 states where it was taken to the voters. And I'm convinced it will pass here. And also recognize that this is a matter of conscience for individuals. It is not a party line matter. Republicans and Democrats will be divided on this issue, and some will support it, some will not support it as it stands. I happen to support and think it's a good idea, but it's something people will decide without regard to party affiliation.

Q: Will you be talking about the issue tomorrow when you take California by storm?

A: You know, as I go outside the state, if you haven't noticed, I give the same speech. I've written a speech, I give it everywhere I go. I'm not trying to write more than one speech. And so I'll give the same speech I've been giving, and it does include a reference to marriage. I think that the Democratic party in Massachusetts may have made an error in selecting as its party platform an endorsement of same-sex marriage. I think that's a mistake. I think that instead the party should put this in the hands of the voters as citizens to vote their conscience.

Q: Governor, are you urging that the legislature reject the current amendment?

A: Well, the legislature can hear my view, and Republican and Democratic legislators, to the extent that they're influenced by my own thinking, will take that into account. But I believe this is a matter that should be voted on the basis of conscience, not by party affiliation or by party leadership encouraging the direction of the vote one way or the other, and I will certainly as I'm doing right now express my view that this is a superior amendment. I hope the legislators of both parties agree with me, and they vote in favor of it. But I don't intend to lobby the legislature on the basis of this amendment. We'll discuss it I'm sure, but people will vote their conscience. I think there'll be a lot of discussion about what's the right procedural process, and how does this fit with the other amendment, which amendment's going to come up first, do we vote no on this, what does it mean for others. There's a procedural process that has to be followed here. The last amendment, for instance, I thought indeed should be brought forward. I'll call it the Travaglini-Lees amendment. I saw it as a procedural opportunity for us if it were passed as it was, that we would get standing to go before the Supreme Judicial Court and receive a stay of the court's ruling. I was openly frustrated in that effort by the Attorney General's decision not to take the case forward to the Supreme Judicial Court. So it didn't fulfill the purpose I had hoped for. Regardless, I believe this is a superior amendment, and therefore I'll support this amendment.

Q: Given that, Governor, do you now hope the legislature rejects Travaglini-Lees?

A: I think procedurally, … uh…

Q: Will it come up first?

A: I'm not sure what's going to happen, and in terms of when it's going to happen, and so forth. This is the amendment I'd like to see go before the people. I'm not sure procedurally just what's going to happen first, second, third, and whether you need to keep that alive to make this work, or whether that has to disappear in order for this to work. But I'm going to turn to my procedural parliamentarians and say, OK, what's the process going to be. Throughout the process it would be my hope that instead of the Travaglini-Lees amendment being on the ballot, that this is the amendment that makes it to the ballot.

Q: Governor, does it concern you at all the under this amendment there would still be four years' worth of gay marriages that would exist in Massachusetts? It doesn't address the ones that have already taken place. There would still be legally married gay couples.

A: You know, I think the Family Institute is wise not to try and dissolve marriages that will have occurred. And I think that would be a confusing factor that would muddy the issue even further. I think it's a wise course to have the amendment take its effect from its passage forward and not try and change things that have passed. I also recognize that we will have gay marriages while we are waiting for this amendment to pass. It would be my preference of course if that were not the case, but I didn't get a chance to argue that before the Supreme Judicial Court. I think in matters such as this however is important enough and is fundamental enough to our society that we have for our citizens the optimal amendment, and not something which is confused by multiple issues. I also believe that this issue of marriage is not a matter of convenience for a few people, or even a decade, or perhaps even a generation, but is a multi-generational multi-decade definition that affects the development of future generations, and therefore we should be very careful in making sure that what we bring forward to our citizens is as close to the final product we'd like to see as possible.

Q: Governor, you said you support some sort of domestic partnership benefits in legislation [inaudible…].

A: Well, that isn't necessary right now, because we're providing marriage to same-sex couples with full benefits. If this amendment were to pass, at that stage I would support legislation which would provide certain domestic partnership benefits, like hospital visitation rights, and rights of survivorship, and so forth. There will be children born to same-sex couples, and adopted by same-sex couples, and I believe that there should be rights and privileges associated with those unions and with the children that are part of those unions.

Q: Governor, we've had a year a gay marriage now. Do you see any evidence that this undercuts the institution of marriage and has hurt our society in any way? Is there any evidence…

A: Well, there are two things that I think are already apparent. One is that there is the legal confusion that was foretold. There are cases in other states as to the rights of children from same-sex couples that move away from Massachusetts. There are divorce issues. I'd be happy to pull out some of the articles we've received, inquiries from other states. And of course I've reviewed press articles from other states as to whether people can get divorced in other states if they got married here if they're same-sex couples and they didn't abide by the provisions of the 1913 law, and so forth. There's a whole series of legal implications of marriage that have not been resolved. Interestingly, the Supreme Judicial Court I believe signaled that pretty clearly in their original decision, giving to the legislature a period of time to enact statutes that would avoid those legal confusions. The legislature has not done so. And as a result, there's I think a degree of uncertainty as to what the rights are, the death benefit rights, the child's right to the two parents in a same-sex marriage. Those things haven't been resolved yet by their respective state courts. So that's one area of concern.

The other, I don't believe that the institution of marriage, meaning in the sense of people being able to combine as adults, is the primary factor at stake. I believe instead it's the development of future generations which is involved primarily in the definition society places on marriage. And so I believe that the ideal setting for raising children is where there is a man and a woman, a mother and a father. I believe a child should have a right to having a mother and a father. And so the implications of same-sex marriage will only be measured over generations, not over years or months. But the legal confusion, of course, has already begun.

Q: Governor, what about the broader issue of judicial activism? Do you support or oppose the Bill of Address movement to recall the judges?

A: I'm not looking to recall the judges. I do however believe that justices should not legislate from the bench any more than legislators should adjudicate from the legislature. And I believe that there should be a separation of powers and responsibilities, and I believe that in this case that the Supreme Judicial Court engaged in legislating. I believe it was an improper decision on their part, and that's why I believe that ultimately the citizens should have the opportunity to make this choice, or their elected representatives.

Q: Is there a possibility that by supporting this amendment that neither of them will pass, because when various certain coalitions form the first one wants some rights, they don't want gay marriage, and isn't there a possibility that by having two that it will undercut both of them?

A: I think that there are a wide range of possibilities. It's hard to speculate what the political process might lead to. And that's why I want to be a little careful in saying exactly what the process might be going forward here. I'm not sure just exactly which one should be voted on first and second, which ones people who are [?] should support, which we shouldn't. I know - I can tell you where I'd want to get to at the end, where I'd like to get to at the end, is where this amendment ultimately reaches the people for a vote. This is very close to the original amendment that was proposed by Speaker Finneran and others, which I supported. We lost by two votes. And it has many of the same features, and I hope it's the one that ultimately reaches the people. But I recognize that any time you bring something forward, it's possible that you end up taking a step backward, and I hope that's not the case.

THANK YOU, GOVERNOR. End of press conference.