Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faced questions about pro-gay statements he made during his failed 1994 Senate campaign during the latest Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday, Dec. 15.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace specifically asked Romney about a letter that he wrote to Log Cabin Republicans’ Massachusetts chapter in Oct. 1994. Romney said that he would co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and pledged to work towards ending discrimination against gays and lesbians. He also suggested that he would prove a stronger advocate for gay and lesbian Americans than late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
“I do not believe in discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation,” Romney told Wallace in an increasingly tense exchange. “At the same time, I oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
Romney’s comments come hours after a Log Cabin Republicans and the Human Rights Campaign criticized Romney for saying that he a three-tiered system that would allow same-sex couples who are legally married to maintain their status but prevent other gays and lesbians from following suit. A gay veteran challenged the former governor on his support of a bill that would repeal New Hampshire’s marriage equality law during a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 12.
Only one percent of those who took part in a Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll in February listed “stopping gay marriage” as a top priority going into the 2012 election cycle.