(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)
Shorter version: "I supported civil rights until the courts started trying to enforce them."
GOV. ROMNEY: These old interviews and stories have frequently been circulated by my opponents ever since I took a stand against the Massachusetts supreme-court ruling on same-sex marriage. This being the political season, it is not surprising this old news has appeared again. But I have made clear since 2003, when the supreme court of Massachusetts redefined marriage by fiat, that my unwavering advocacy for traditional marriage stands side by side with a tolerance and respect for all Americans.
Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.
I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I have been rock solid in my support of traditional marriage. Marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. It’s unfortunate that those who choose to defend the institution of marriage are often demonized.
LOPEZ: In a 1994 debate with Senator Kennedy, you said “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I have since the time that my Mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years we should sustain and support it.” [...] What is your position on abortion today? On Roe? How do you account for what is obviously a change — certainly publicly — on the issue?
GOV. ROMNEY: My position has changed and I have acknowledged that. How that came about is that several years ago, in the course of the stem-cell-research debate I met with a pair of experts from Harvard. At one point the experts pointed out that embryonic-stem-cell research should not be a moral issue because the embryos were destroyed at 14 days. After the meeting I looked over at Beth Myers, my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction — it just hit us hard just how much the sanctity of life had been cheapened by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality. And from that point forward, I said to the people of Massachusetts, “I will continue to honor what I pledged to you, but I prefer to call myself pro-life.” The state of Massachusetts is a pro-choice state and when I campaigned for governor I said that I would not change the law on abortion. But I do believe that the one-size-fits-all, abortion-on-demand-for-all-nine-months decision in Roe v. Wade does not serve the country well and is another example of judges making the law instead of interpreting the Constitution.
What I would like to see is the Court return the issue to the people to decide. The Republican party is and should remain the pro-life party and work to change hearts and minds and create a culture of life where every child is welcomed and protected by law and the weakest among us are protected. I understand there are people of good faith on both sides of the issue. They should be able to make and advance their case in democratic forums with civility, mutual respect, and confidence that our democratic process is the best place to handle these issues.
Lesson learned: Mitt Romney, unlike the majority of Americans, is anti-choice.
LOPEZ: Does that mean you were “faking it” — as one former adviser has suggested — as a pro-choicer in your previous political campaigns? Why should anyone believe you’re really pro-life now?
GOV. ROMNEY: I believe people will see that as governor, when I had to examine and grapple with this difficult issue, I came down on the side of life. I know in the four years I have served as governor I have learned and grown from the exposure to the thousands of good-hearted people who are working to change the culture in our country. I’m committed to promoting the culture of life. Like Ronald Reagan, and Henry Hyde, and others who became pro-life, I had this issue wrong in the past.