Given his recent obsession with fighting marriage equality, slashing funds for every LGBT program in the state budget and generally characterizing gay people as aliens ("Some of them are even having children born to them," he fretted incredulously last year to a group of South Carolina Republicans), it's kind of funny that back when Mitt Romney was looking to unseat Ted Kennedy from the U.S. Senate he just loooooved the gays. Or at least he pretended to, since he certainly hasn't shown this side of his personality since he collected that endorsement donation from the Log Cabin Republicans back in his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Here are a few excerpts from Romney's Aug. 25, 1994 interview with Bay Windows.
On how he feels about gays and lesbians:
"I feel that as a society and for me as an individual, it's incumbent on all of us to respect one another, regardless of our differences and beliefs, our differences in sexual orientation, in race and that America has always been a place, and should be a place, to welcome and tolerate people's differences.
"I personally feel and one of my core beliefs is that we should accept people of all backgrounds and recognize everyone as a brother and a sister because we are all part of the family of man."
On whether he'd go beyond merely accepting gay people and advocating for the rights of lesbians and gay men:
"The answer is yes. When I speak of free agency, I don't just mean that each person can do what they want to do, I mean that our society should allow people to make their own choices and live by their own beliefs. People of integrity don't force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have. That's the great thing about this country: it was founded to allow people to follow beliefs of their own conscience. I will work and have worked to fight discrimination and to assure each American equal opportunity. You'll see that, for instance, in my relations in the workplace. ...
"For a number of years, I was chief executive at Bain and Co. It's an environment that fosters openness and fights discrimination. I believe it is a good place for gay and lesbian individuals to work. I know of nothing in our workplace that doesn't encourage promotion and compensation based on performance, without regard to personal differences, such as sexual orientation. I believe that my record, my life, is a clear indication of my support and insistence on anti-discrimination and on efforts to assure equal rights for all."
On who he aligns himself with in the GOP:
"Well probably more like Bill Weld. It's hard for me to align them person by person but I think Bill Weld comes as close as anyone. ... I think Bill Weld's fiscal conservatism, his focus on creating jobs and employment and his efforts to fight discrimination and assure civil rights for all is a model that I identify with and aspire to."
On how he felt about "conservative Republicans like Pat Roberston of Jesse Helms":
"Any party ends up being a large tent and I don't want to toss people out of the party, but I do not favor people using the party as a platform for the views of different special interest groups.
"I remember in my earliest political experience my father fighting to keep the John Birch Society from playing too strong a role in the Republican Party. He walked out of the Republican National Convention in 1964, when Barry Goldwater said, 'Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.' Because he saw that as a tacit approval of the effort the John Birch Society was making to influence the Republican Party. I think that extremists who would force their views on the party and try to shape the party are making a mistake.
"I welcome people of all views in the party, but I don't want them to try to change our party from being a large tent, inclusive party, to being one that is exclusive."
On whether he would have supported Helms's amendment to the 1994 Elementary and Secondary Education Act to ban federal funding to public schools that encourage or support "homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative":
"I would have opposed that amendment. I don't think the federal government has any business dictating to local school boards what their curriculum or practices should be. I think that's a dangerous precedent in general. I would have opposed that. It also grossly misunderstands the gay community by insinuating that there's an attempt to proselytize a gay lifestyle on the part of the gay community. I think it's wrong-headed and unfortunate and hurts the party by being identified with the Republican party."
On whether he supported a federal bill to prevent anti-gay discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit:
"I am not fully aware of that bill, so I would need to study that more fully. I am aware of the legislation that Barney Frank proposed [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] and do support that and would vote in favor of that.
"I also philosophically support efforts to ban discrimination in housing. The particulars of the bill you're speaking about I have not studied, so I shouldn't state a position. Philosophically, I support efforts to remove discrimination from the workplace, from housing, from education and so forth."
On whether he supported Mass. Congressman Marty Meehan's bill proposal to form a federal panel to explore ways to reduce gay youth suicides:
"I support efforts both to understand and reduce gay and lesbian suicide. I applaud Gov. Weld's leadership in that regard in Massachusetts, as well."
On whether he supported domestic partner benefits legislation for gay federal employees:
"I think what Bill Weld has done here in that regard is the right step and moves in the right direction. [Weld granted sick leave and bereavement time to management-level state employees].
"I think when people have a commitment to one another, either a heterosexual or homosexuals relationship, that they should have the benefit of visitation rights and leave privileges and things of that nature. The question for me in regards to the health care benefits would be to determine what the cost is, what the implications are, where one would draw the boundaries , how one would define commitment. And those are areas I haven't studied so I won't take a position on that. I do support generally the proposition that people in homosexual relationships should not be discriminated against in terms of employment benefits."
On whether he supported the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples:
"I line up with Gov. Weld on that, and it's a state issue as you know - the authorization of marriage on a same-sex basis falls under state jurisdiction. My understanding is that he has looked at the issue and concluded that certain benefits and privileges should be offered to gay couples. But he does not feel at this time that he wishes to extend legalized marriage on a same-sex basis, and I support his position."
On whether he'd want more studies done on the marriage issue:
"That will occur at the state level. I'll let the governor in Massachusetts, and the governors of others states, as well, study it, evaluate it, discuss the alternatives with psychologists and social workers and health care specialist and so forth to gather information and consider it in a very reasoned way. I have confidence the governor will take the right action."
On whether he supported the repeal of archaic sex laws:
"I'm not sure which ones each of those are, but I don't think it makes sense to have laws on the books that are not enforced and that only hang over people as possible threats, and so again it's a state-by-state decision and I wouldn't want to impose on a federal level what each state does on their laws, but I think it's a mistake for us to leave laws that are not enforced."
On whether he supported condom distribution in federal prisons:
"I would support the conclusion of medical professionals and social workers in prisons as to what they thought was helpful to prevent the spread of the disease. If that was something they thought was appropriate, then I would support it. I don't see any reason why that would be an inappropriate thing."
On whether he'd support condom distribution in schools:
"Here again you'll hear me saying the same thing on a number of issues, there are choices I think should be made at the state and local level that I don't like the federal government getting into. I like important moral decisions being made closest to where people live, at the state and local level. So if the community feels that condom distribution is a helpful thing, then that community should be able to do that. And if another community feels that's something they don't support, then they should have the right to do that, as well.
"You will find in me a continuing philosophical commitment to allow people to make their own choices and to allow the people in the country to decide what's best for them, instead of letting politicians decide what should be done for the country."
On whether people with HIV should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S.:
"I have to admit I have not spoken to immigration officers about the extent or the costs of that policy, so I hesitate to speculate. I think it is a legitimate right of the government to say, 'We don't want to take on massive medical costs which we as a society would have to bear.' On the other hand, I think it would be wrong to deny people who are HIV-positive access to the United States if there were no substantial costs to us. I would feel the same way, by the way, if someone came to the door who had cancer and was indigent and said, 'I want to come to the United States.'
"I'd say, 'Gee can you care for yourself?' - because it's a concern that our government would have that someone would come and cost our system a lot of money. If somebody has the ability to care for themselves then I see no reason to have restrictions on HIV or cancer or any other kind of patient."
On why the gay community should support Romney over Kennedy, given Kennedy's record of supporting both civil rights and the gay community:
"Well, I think you're partially right in characterizing Ted Kennedy as supportive of the gay community, and I respect the work and efforts he's made on behalf of the gay community and for civil rights more generally, and I would continue that fight.
"There's something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he's seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights he's seen as a centrist and a moderate. It's a little like if Eugene McCarthy was arguing in favor of recognizing China, people would have called him a nut. But when Richard Nixon does it, it becomes reasonable. When Ted says it, it's extreme; when I say it, it's mainstream.
"I think the gay community needs more support from the Republican Party and I would be a voice in the Republican Party to foster anti-discrimination efforts.
"The other thing I should say is that the gay community and the members of it that are friends of mine that I've talked to don't vote solely on the basis of gay rights issues. They're also very concerned about a $4 trillion national debt, a failing school system, a welfare system that's out of whack and a criminal justice system that isn't working. I believe that while I would further the efforts Ted Kennedy has led, I would also lead the country in new and far more positive ways in taxing and spending, welfare reform, criminal justice and education. That's why I believe many gay and lesbian individuals will support my candidacy and do support my candidacy.
"I have several friends in the gay community who are supporters, who are working in my campaign. I think they believe I would be a better senator."