Occupation: Business and civic leader
Public Offices Held: none
Education: Brigham Young University; M.B.A., Harvard Business School; J.D., Harvard Law School
BW: When did you become aware that civil rights for gays and lesbians was an issue?
MR: At a very young age, my parents taught me important lessons about tolerance and respect. I have carried these lessons with me throughout my life and will bring them with me if I am fortunate enough to be elected governor. My dad, George Romney, was a three-term governor of Michigan. He walked the streets of Detroit with Martin Luther King in support of civil rights. And my mother, Lenore, ran for the U.S. Senate in 1970 and advocated a woman's right to choose when abortion was still a crime, before the days of Roe vs. Wade. If elected Governor of Massachusetts, I will not tolerate discrimination of any form in Massachusetts.
BW: Did you have an epiphany (personal experience) in "gay awareness"?
MR: No, but I have friends who are gay and I respect and honor them as individuals.
BW: If you are elected, what would be the three top priorities for advancing gay and lesbian civil rights?
MR: My priorities as Governor would be to improve the quality of life of all people in Massachusetts, and that means creating new jobs, improving educational opportunities and fixing the budget mess on Beacon Hill. As it relates to gay and lesbian issues in particular, I would look to protect already established rights and extend basic civil rights to domestic partnerships.
BW: To you, what is the difference between civil unions between same-sex couples and gay marriage?
MR: Very little, if any. For all intents and purposes, they are the same.
BW: Do you support civil unions?
MR: No, because I believe it's virtually identical to marriage.
BW: Do you support gay marriage?
BW: If you do not support gay marriage or civil unions, what keeps you from doing so?
MR: I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
BW: Do you support the Protection of Marriage Amendment?
MR: No, because it would outlaw domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples.
BW: Do you believe the Protection of Marriage Amendment initiative should be put before voters?
MR: The people have a constitutional right to put questions before the voters. But, if it had been on the ballot, I would have voted no.
BW: Do you believe the Legislature should have voted on the Protection of Marriage Amendment (H. 4840) rather than voting to adjourn, even if that meant that H. 4840 would have passed?
MR: I don't believe in stifling democracy. I believe the Legislature should have had an up or down vote on the merits after listening to arguments on both sides of the issue.
BW: If an initiative petition passed (on the ballot) that prohibited gays and lesbians from enjoying certain rights (like a Protection of Marriage Act or a repeal of the gay and lesbian civil rights law), would you support overturning that decision in the following legislative session? Or would you let the voters' decision stand even if it denied gays and lesbians their rights?
MR: I would do everything in my power as Governor to educate the public on the need to fight discrimination of any kind.
BW: What is your position on each of the following issues? Domestic partner benefits for state and municipal employees -
MR: I support domestic partner benefits. With regard to specific eligibility and benefits, I would need to study the costs and regulations associated with it in light of the state's fiscal crisis.
BW: Repeal of sodomy laws -
MR: I don't think government should interfere in the private lives of consenting adults.
BW: State funding of Safe Schools programs --
MR: I believe it is important to teach children the importance of tolerance and respect. If this program is proven effective, I would support it.
BW: Strengthening hate-crimes laws -
MR: Our existing hate crimes laws are strong in Massachusetts. If gaps or needs arise, I would favor addressing them.
BW: Do you favor increased state funding of AIDS treatment and prevention programs?
MR: Yes. I believe that AIDS education and prevention should be an integral part of state government's public health mission.
BW: Do you have openly gay people on your campaign staff, either in a paid or volunteer capacity?
BW: If elected, would you hire gays and lesbians?
MR: I will impose no litmus test, but instead will look for the best qualified people to work in my administration, regardless of sexual orientation.
BW: As a society, we gain nothing by the perpetuation of prejudices and biases, especially those that are expressed in violent ways. How can we change the way we view each other?
MR: Like my parents did many years ago, we need to promote tolerance and reject violence and discrimination.