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Team Romney etch-a-sketches on federal marriage amendment comments within minutes after Buzzfeed report

A reminder — Mitt Romney’s (continued) support for a federal marriage amendment signals that President Obama’s “cinderella crumbs” —  “policy changes” or recommendations to agencies to broaden its interpretation of a policy or mission to be inclusive of LGBTs — can, and would likely be reversed in a Romney administration.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this of hilarity from the campaign that can’t shoot straight; it also shows the sensitivity and fealty to the fringe anti-LGBT right represented by the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer.

Chris Geidner over at Buzzfeed wrote a piece on Saturday about remarks Romney senior adviser Bay Buchanan made to The Advocate‘s Julie Bolcer earlier this week that indicated the candidate now viewed marriage rights as a state matter.

 “He very much supports traditional marriage, but he’s also a very strong advocate for the Tenth Amendment. It’s a state issue.”

The report also stated that when asked about how Romney’s opposition to same-sex couples’ marriage rights, including his support for the Defense of Marriage Act, would help same-sex parents, “Buchanan responded that Romney would not get in the way of what states decide to do on marriage and adoption.”

This seemed to fly in the face of a key milestone in the primary season when the former Massachusetts governor said he would favor a federal marriage amendment, a position that fellow GOP Clown Car occupants Herman Cain and Ron Paul opposed.

In fact Mittens went the extra mile, signing NOM’s pledge to score points with the fundie base. The pledge included these key points:

  • Support sending a federal marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.
  • Nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and to applying the original meaning of the Constitution, appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution
  • Defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court.

Buchanan’s hands-off-to-the-states comments this week were newsworthy. The DNC, to its credit, within moments of the Buzzfeed report issued a statement:

Mitt Romney seems to have come down with a case of Romnesia on marriage equality, but what his campaign seems to forget is that his pledges to enshrine discrimination into the Constitution were all caught on tape. Romney has repeatedly said that he supports a federal marriage amendment, and a senior adviser even said he would campaign on opposing marriage equality. Their latest about-face should be seen for what it is: a convenient case of #Romnesia to fool voters.

However, only an hour after publishing his piece, Geidner got a “clarification” from Buchanan and issued an update to his post:

Although campaign officials did not respond to inquiries prior to publication, Bay Buchanan issued a clarification to BuzzFeed this afternoon following initial publication of this story, writing, “Governor Romney supports a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Governor Romney also believes, consistent with the 10th Amendment, that it should be left to states to decide whether to grant same-sex couples certain benefits, such as hospital visitation rights and the ability to adopt children. I referred to the Tenth Amendment only when speaking about these kinds of benefits – not marriage.”

When I read that I laughed out loud, joking on Facebook that Bryan Fischer “got on the Batphone, er MittPhone and “corrected” Romney on his position.”


While this flip-flopping is par for the course on most issues, this one is particularly galling because it’s an extreme position with real consequences. As David Badash at the New Civil Rights Movement reminds us in his post “Hospital Visitation For Gay Couples Are ‘Benefits’ Not Rights,” the ability of same-sex couples to visit one another in a hospital is not a permanent federal right, it is an order/recommendation issued by this current President, and like all executive orders or policy interpretations, they can be reversed by the next President. Since Mitt Romney has now made it clear (at least for the moment) that he does indeed believe the rights of a married couple do not extend to married same-sex couples or their partners, and that his John Hancock on NOM’s pledge is still in effect…

Mitt Romney’s website proudly states:

Like any family, the Romneys have faced hardship: Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, and more recently fought a battle with breast cancer. She credits her husband’s unwavering care and devotion to her for helping her through these ordeals.

So, while Mitt and Ann recognize how important it is to face health crises together, he would actually allow states to prohibit same-sex couples from having the same hospital visitation rights that he and Ann have. We’re not allowed to exercise “unwavering care and devotion” like the Romneys.

There are a few bright spots — even in North Carolina, which recently voted  into law a marriage discrimination amendment that bars even civil unions — it passed legislation pre-dating the President’s order that allows patients to designate specific individuals the same rights and privileges of family members. This is also true in Delaware, Nebraska and Minnesota. However, a Mitt Romney administration would leave same-sex couples in most politically hostile states SOL.

Let’s see if a reporter asks Romney to specifically state his position on the hospital visitation rights directive and whether the Etch-A-Sketch will be shaken again.


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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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