Mitt Romney, in a statement just now blasting the court’s ruling of Proposition 8 as unconstitutional:
“Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.”
That note about judges who interpret the Constitution according to their own “prejudices” — is that a reference to the fact that the judge on the case was gay, which was cited by Prop 8 supporters as proof of his bias? Naah, probably not. A major party presidential candidate would never go there.
This statement is obviously about appealing to the GOP primary electorate. But you’d think this would only provide Romney’s primary opponents with an occasion to remind those voters that back in 1994, he envisioned a world in which “full equality” reigned for gays and lesbians and said he’d be better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy:
I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.
I am not unaware of my opponent’s considerable record in the area of civil rights, or the commitment of Massachusetts voters to the principle of equality for all Americans. For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponents’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.
What’s of particular interest in today’s statement is Romney’s claim that the court decision “underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values.” At a time when majorities of Americans are coming out for gay marriage, is this kind of stuff really going to be any more than a major turnoff for independents and swing voters in a general election?
Of course, that question is probably moot — all will be forgotten by then. We have heard a good deal from pundits who have suggested that, hey, if Romney wins, all that stuff he does to get through the primary doesn’t really matter, he’s really a moderate at heart, etc., etc. I suppose expecting people to remember statements like this one would be too much to ask.