Fringe Right to Religious Conservatives: Not Romney!

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday July 14, 2011

A number of figures from the fringe right have put their names to a letter that warns religious conservatives against supporting Mitt Romney's campaign, a July 13 posting at People for the American Way says.

The letter, which is addressed to "Conservative, Catholic and Evangelical Leaders," was composed by a former California state lawmaker named Steve Baldwin, the posting said. The appeared at the website on June 20, attributed merely to "Editor."

The letter makes a number of arguments against Romney as a candidate for the presidency in 2012. One section is headed, "Romney's Business Management Experience Does Not Guarantee He Will Govern As A Conservative," while another declares, "Romney Raised Taxes And Destroyed Job Creation In Massachusetts."

The letter also credits Romney with ushering marriage equality into Massachusetts during his tenure as governor. The first legal same-sex weddings in America took place in Massachusetts in 2004.

"When Romney first ran for President, he declared himself to be a social conservative but as governor he did great damage to America by unilaterally ordering homosexual marriage to be instituted in Massachusetts," the letter reads.

"The Massachusetts Constitution clearly prohibits the judicial branch from specifically changing marriage statutes so when the court issued the Goodridge opinion favoring homosexual marriage, all Romney had to do was to declare the court had no jurisdiction and ignore it.... but Romney, instead of ignoring the illegal decision, asserted the opinion was now the law and then ordered his town clerks and Justices of the Peace to marry homosexuals," the letter continues.

"Thus, Romney violated his oath to uphold the state constitution. Indeed, the Massachusetts legislature has never changed the marriage statute, which, continues to this day to prohibit same sex marriages. The flatly illegal charade of 'gay' marriage exists solely in Massachusetts due to Governor Romney's illegal actions. By ordering town clerks to participate in the solemnization of illegal marriages, Romney committed a felony."

The letter decried an array of laws, bills, and policies intended to counter anti-gay discrimination, and attempts to link Romney to them in various ways.

"As Governor, Romney implemented a Executive Order that created a vast 'diversity' agency to make sure those of all races and 'sexual orientations' be hired throughout state government," the letter states.

Subsequently, the letter's text condemns the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as "a full assault upon religious freedom." Romney, the letter says, lent his support to the measure, which has been approved almost every legislative session for decades but never been approved by U.S. lawmakers.

The letter took aim at Romney's much-publicized flip-flops on a number of issues that are dear to conservatives.

" ...Romney has also been both in favor and against minimum wage legislation, capital gains taxes, gun control, amnesty for illegal aliens, campaign finance reform, the Kyoto agreement, gambling, gun control, and many other issues."

The letter also took aim at the health care plan introduced to Massachusetts under Romney, calling the plan "RomneyCare, a mini-version of ObamaCare that Romney continues to defend to this day.

"It forces everyone to buy health insurance and massively regulates the market, just like ObamaCare. And RomneyCare is bankrupting the state, creating sharp premium increases and destroying the quality of health care, just like ObamaCare will do if it survives.

"But this should be no surprise," the letter continues. "ObamaCare was inspired by RomneyCare, and Health Care For All, a socialized medicine advocacy group, was heavily involved with both efforts."

The letter took exception to claims that Romney's business acumen would be useful in the Oval Office, and essentially criticized the would-be candidate for not being Ronald Reagan.

"The goal of conservatives is to scale back government, not manage big government more efficiently," the letter stated. "Ronald Reagan had little business experience, but he also knew the business of government was carried out by people he appointed so he set about appointing conservatives."

But Romney's "worldview," the letter suggested, is not trustworthy to conservatives.

In its concluding remarks, the letter said, "Most disturbing is the key role Mitt Romney played in accelerating two of the greatest threats to our Judeo-Christian culture and free enterprise system: Homosexual marriage and government control of health care. In both instances, the actions Romney took -- or didn't take -- on homosexual marriage and RomneyCare have done lasting damage to our country."

Among the letter's signatories were Brain Camenker, the leader of an anti-gay extremist group in Massachusetts, Tea Party politician Joe Miller, American Right to Life President Lolita Hanks, and Gary Glenn of the Campaign for Michigan Families, among others.

A new poll of GOP contenders for the nomination shows that Romney has drawn ahead of the next most-popular Republican hopeful, Michele Bachmann, Politico reported in a July 14 article.

"Mitt Romney leads Michele Bachmann 29% to 12% among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire," American Research Group's Dick Bennett told Politico in an email.

Other right-wing figures drew single digits in the poll, with Newt Gingrich garnering 7%.

But Romney's lead vanished when the pollster looked at independent voters: "Bachmann leads Romney 21% to 20% among undeclared (independent) voters likely to vote in the primary," the email said.

Romney was the first major Republican prospective candidate to refuse to sign a 14-point, heavily anti-gay campaign pledge that many saw as containing racist overtones. The document was issued by an Iowa group called THE FAMiLY LEADER, which is headed by Bob Vander Plaats, who also spearheaded the successful campaign to unseat three of the state's supreme court justices following the court's unanimous decision that found an anti-marriage equality state law to be unconstitutional. Marriage equality became legal in Iowa after that.

GOP politicians John Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty followed Romney's lead, despite a declaration from THE FAMiLY LEADER that no candidate who declined to sign would win the group's endorsement for the Iowa primary.

Michele Bachmann was the first GOP contender to sign the 14-point pledge. She was soon joined by another anti-gay politician, Rick Santorum, who is famed for having compared lifelong commitments between same-sex couples to bestiality.

But the campaign pledge controversy barely had time to register before Bachmann was swallowed into a fresh media firestorm over questions about whether the Christian counseling practice headed by her husband, Marcus Bachmann, attempted to "convert" gays through so-called "reparative therapy."

On July 11 and 12, ABC News ran segments about those questions, and underscored to viewers the dangers of reparative therapy, which purports to "heal" homosexuality, but which reputable mental health professionals condemn as ineffectual and dangerous.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.