For my write-up today on The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, I’ll use as my starting-point a story that Kranish and Helman tell on pages 218-219, about when Romney was working with the Olympics. This post will focus on Romney’s stances on homosexuality and abortion, but it won’t go into every single detail that the book mentions about this topic.
On pages 218-219, we read the following:
“Romney also impressed Guetschow, the former Olympian on the organizing committee, by demonstrating a measure of respect for her as a lesbian. Guetschow recalled the first meeting of the new committee members after Romney’s arrival…Garff, after presiding over an opening prayer, began by asking the members to stand and introduce their spouses. Guetschow, who had brought her partner, went last. She recalled saying to herself, ‘What am I going to do?’ Many of the trustees were members of the Mormon church, which considers homosexuality sinful. When Guetschow’s turn came, she said, ‘This is my friend; I guess that’s a safe way to put it.’ Everyone, she said, ‘was a little horrified.’ Soon, Guetschow herself was horrified when the organizing committee proposed an antidiscrimination employment policy that did not include a provision for sexual orientation. ‘They skipped over my minority, and I was too shy to speak up,’ Guetschow said. Instead, she spoke to Lillian Taylor, who served on the board’s human resources committee. Taylor conveyed the omission to Romney, who approved an amended policy that covered homosexuality. Romney later reached out to Salt Lake’s gay community as part of the committee’s effort to enhance diversity in the Olympic workforce. ‘He treated me well, and I think he genuinely believes that all people should be treated well,’ Guetschow said.”
I like this story for a variety of reasons: because I could identify with Guetschow for wanting to speak her convictions, and yet being too shy to do so, and because I admired Mitt Romney for reaching out to the gay community when many of the trustees thought that homosexuality was a sin.
In terms of Romney’s overall stance on gay issues, the Log Cabin Republicans considered him to be rather progressive, even though Romney asked a question to its founder Richard Tafel that Tafel considered to be rather offensive: “Now on the Boy Scouts, you wouldn’t want gay Scout leaders, would you?” But Romney was open to listening to their concerns and stood up for gay rights in his 1994 race against Ted Kennedy. Romney also noted to Tafel that he had gay employees at Bain Capital.
At the same time, four people report hearing Romney telling a Mormon gathering that he was disturbed by reported homosexuality in the congregation, which Romney denounced as “perverse”. Romney denies saying that, however. In his race for Governor, Romney was against gay marriage and civil unions, but he supported domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples.
On the issue of abortion, Mitt ran as pro-choice in his race for Senate and his race for Governor, though Kranish and Helman say that Romney distanced himself from the pro-choice label in a letter to a Utah newspaper. In his race for Senate, Romney said that his mother and family were pro-choice. Kranish and Helman narrate, however, that Lenore Romney (Mitt’s mother) was not entirely pro-choice when she unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 1970. Rather, she said regarding abortion: “I think we need to reevaluate this, but I do not feel it is as simple as having an appendectomy…I’m so tired of hearing the argument that a woman should have the final word on what happens to her own body. This is a life.” While I wrestle with what public policy should be when it comes to abortion, I agree with Lenore: abortion is not in the same category as an appendectomy, and the unborn child is a life, meaning that the issue is not just about a woman’s body.