The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Political Research Associates, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action call on Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to condemn bigoted statements made by Christian Right leaders during a September “Values Voters Summit” at which Romney was a featured speaker. Romney is scheduled to give a video address at the October 15, 2006 “Liberty Sunday” electoral rally at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in downtown Boston (7:00 pm). The event is sponsored by the Family Research Council, the same group that sponsored the September summit.
In late September Romney, warmly greeted by some 1,700 attendees at the Christian Right’s “Washington Briefing: 2006 Values Voters Summit” held in Washington, DC, boasted to the assembled crowd that his administration succeeded in limiting gay marriage to Massachusetts residents. “That will change, I’m afraid,” he said, “if the state were to elect a Democratic governor.” He added, “We desperately need to have a federal marriage amendment.”
Other speakers at Value Voters Summit, under the banner “Family, Faith, & Freedom,” said:
- “The worst form of child abuse is placing a child in a gay home.” — Jennifer Giroux, Citizens for Community Values
- “We call them a faggot. I’m from the ghetto. Sometimes this stuff slips out. In the hood we call them sissified” — Bishop Wellington Boone
- “Could it be that the antichrist himself may be homosexual?” …I believe it’s from the pit of hell itself that this movement is inspired, that it has a satanic anointment.” — Rev. Dwight McKissic
The Reverend Dr. Katherine Ragsdale, executive director of Somerville-based nonpartisan think tank Political Research Associates says, “We call on Mitt Romney to distance himself from the disgraceful defamations of lesbian and gay couples and families of Massachusetts that are centerpieces of this partisan political operation He should denounce the bigoted and alarmist statements made at the Values Voters Summit and from the ridiculous assertion that gay marriages limit religious liberty.”
Sue Hyde, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force spokesperson and long time Massachusetts resident says, “Mitt Romney boasts that he has contained marriage rights for same-sex couples by dusting off an archaic 95-year-old law passed to prevent marriages between people of different races. He aligns himself with the most extreme right-wing elements to burnish his reputation with the so-called ‘values voters,’ throwing fairness and decency under his Presidential campaign bus. Romney knows well that 8,500 same-sex marriages have hurt no one and have strengthened families in his state. His positioning in regard to equality is shameful.”
What Can We Expect at Liberty Sunday in Boston?
Governor Romney appears to have hitched his campaign wagon to the Christian Right. Ann Romney, the governor’s wife, will speak at the October 15, 2006 “Liberty Sunday” electoral and introduce the Governor, who will address the crowd by video. Speakers at the event are expected to emphasize the purported incompatibility between gay rights and religious freedom. Though held in Boston, the event will be simulcast nationwide by radio and satellite television.
Romney is playing a key role in this national Christian Right campaign aimed at mobilizing voters to elect Republican candidates in the mid-term elections by portraying gay marriage in bigoted terms as a contagion that will spread from his state and which threatens to destroy the American family. Their message of “Family, Faith, & Freedom” links the external threat of terrorism to the “internal threat” of gay marriage and abortion—a frame that points to the terrorist attacks on 9/11 while leaping over criticism of the war in Iraq. These messages appear to be intended for use by leading Christian Right groups through the Presidential election in 2008, in which Romney is seen as a likely candidate.
Liberty Sunday will be the first sign of this campaign for many Massachusetts residents; however it is just part of a coordinated national strategy that began months ago. Romney appears in a promotional video for the event that was screened twice at the Christian Right “Washington Briefing: 2006 Values Voters Summit,” in September.
Presidential hopeful Governor Romney, speaking around the country, seems to be intensifying his courtship of the right wing and doing it at the expense of defaming lesbian and gay people. While Romney is telling reporters that he is resigned to following the law in Massachusetts, he is working to have same-sex marriage banned in other states as part of a Christian Right plan that has a dual strategy: build support for the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), and force states that have not explicitly banned gay marriage to enact such legislation or place it on a ballot initiative where possible under state law. In addition, if voters elect Republicans instead of Democrats in 2006 and 2008, Christian Right activists are being told, then with the ability to control Congress and appoint more judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, the goal of rolling back gay rights and banning abortion will be within their reach.
Despite an attempt to portray these issues as non-partisan, numerous Christian Right activists make it clear that “values voters” who are concerned with “Family, Faith, & Freedom” should vote for Republican political candidates.
For additional information and commentary the following persons are available to talk to the press:
— Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, Director, Political Research Associates, 781.760.074
— Sue Hyde, Spokesperson, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Sue Hyde 617.320.6635
— Sarah Wunsch, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, 617.872.7870
— Sheila Decter, Executive Director, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, 617.257.3008