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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Obama’s opposition to DOMA differs with other Democrats; … Romney’s ’94 comments stir controversy

WASHINGTON (BP)–U.S. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama is drawing a significant amount of interest for a possible 2008 presidential run by portraying himself as a moderate, but on the issue of “gay marriage,” at least, he is to the left of many members of his own party.

During his 2004 run for the Senate seat from Illinois, Obama said he opposed “gay marriage” but also opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s “gay marriage” licenses. If DOMA is overturned or repealed, then the other 49 states presumably would be forced to recognize “gay marriages” from Massachusetts.

DOMA’s repeal also presumably would force the federal government to recognize “gay marriage,” leading to federal tax and Social Security benefits applying to homosexual couples in Massachusetts.

DOMA passed the Senate 85-14 10 years ago, receiving a majority of Democratic support. President Clinton signed it into law, and his wife, current U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, said as recently as this fall she still supports DOMA.

Obama reached out to the homosexual community in 2004, giving an interview with the Windy City Times — a Chicago-based homosexual newspaper — and also addressing Times readers in a letter to the editor.

“For the record, I opposed DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] in 1996,” Obama wrote then. “It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying. This is an effort to demonize people for political advantage, and should be resisted … When members of Congress passed DOMA, they were not interested in strengthening family values or protecting civil liberties. They were only interested in perpetuating division and affirming a wedge issue.”

After DOMA became law more than 35 states passed their own laws specifically banning “gay marriage.” Also, 27 states adopted constitutional marriage amendments, which provide even greater protection than do laws against the redefinition of marriage.

In his letter published in the Windy City Times, Obama also said he supports repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” and supports passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would elevate “sexual orientation” to the status of race. He also said he supports same-sex civil unions, something 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry also supported.

“I know how important the issue of equal rights is to the LGBT community,” Obama wrote. “I share your sense of urgency. If I am elected U.S. Senator, you can be confident that my colleagues in the Senate and the President will know my position.”

WHERE DOES ROMNEY STAND? — Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney has been a champion of conservative values in recent months, but during his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign, he requested support from the homosexual community and sounded downright liberal on some social issues. Romney’s 1994 positions recently were recounted in stories by the Associated Press, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. He is considering a 2008 run for president.

Romney lost in that 1994 campaign against U.S. Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, one of Congress’ leading liberals.

“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,” Romney wrote in a letter to Bay Windows, a homosexual newspaper.

In a letter to the Log Cabin Club of Massachusetts, Romney wrote, “For some voters, it might be enough to simply match my opponent’s [Kennedy’s] record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”

Regarding the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals, Romney told the Log Cabin Club the policy was “the first in a number of steps that will ultimately lead to gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military.”

Those positions seemingly stand in contrast to positions Romney has taken in recent months. He has been a vocal supporter of a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to reverse the state high court’s “gay marriage” decision and even recently filed a lawsuit to try and get the amendment on the ballot. He also has been a vocal advocate of a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“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,” Romney told National Review Online in an interview posted Dec. 14. “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.”

As for his current views on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Romney said, “I trust the counsel of those in uniform who have set these policies over a dozen years ago. I agree with President Bush’s decision to maintain this policy and I would do the same.”

Romney also said he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, saying it “would be an overly broad law that would open a litigation floodgate and unfairly penalize employers at the hands of activist judges.”

OHIO COURT LOOKS AT AMENDMENT — The Ohio Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 12 in a case that will determine whether the state’s constitutional marriage amendment prevents domestic violence charges from being brought against unmarried people.

The lawsuit involves a man, Michael Carswell, who was charged under the state’s domestic violence law of assaulting his live-in girlfriend. Carswell’s attorney contends the amendment prevents such charges being brought.

The amendment text in contention says the state “shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

Rachel Hutzel, the prosecutor in the case, told the court the amendment was designed to prohibit same-sex “marriage” and civil unions — and not to overturn the state’s domestic violence laws.

Carswell won at the trial court level but lost at the appeals court.

N.J. PASTOR MAKES STAND DURING PRAYER — A non-denominational New Jersey pastor likely won’t be invited back to deliver the opening state legislative prayer after he criticized “gay marriage” in his moment at the podium.

Vincent Fields, pastor of Greater Works Ministries church in Absecon, N.J., delivered the invocation at the New Jersey Senate Dec. 11.

“We curse the spirit that would come to bring about same-sex marriage,” Fields said during his prayer, according to The Star-Ledger newspaper. “We ask you to just look over this place today, cause them to be shaken in their very heart in uprightness, Lord, to do that is right before you.”

Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, said Fields “will not be back,” the newspaper reported. But Fields believes he was doing God’s will.

“We’re living in a time now where we’ve got to take a stand spiritually,” Fields told the newspaper. “…We’re literally setting ourselves up for God to turn his back on us, and if we do, we’ll have the chaos in other countries, in this country.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust