National Public Radio's Tovia Smith tackled Mitt Romney's flip-flopping on gay rights on Monday night's "All Things Considered." In a 1994 Massachusetts senate campaign, for instance, Romney promised he was more pro-gay rights than Ted Kennedy - compared to his current pro-DOMA stance that he outlined to a married gay Vietnam veteran Bob Garon in New Hampshire (see video below). Smith interviewed Ned Flaherty with Marriage Equality USA and R. Clarke Cooper, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans, among others. (Listen to the story on "All Things Considered" here.)
NPR noted that Romney denied any inconsistency in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan. "What happened was that the gay community changed their perspective as to what they wanted," Romney said, adding that he never included gay marriage when talking about gay rights - he means equal opportunity in jobs and housing. "I oppose same-sex marriage," Romney told Morgan. "At the same time, I would advance the efforts not to discriminate against people who are gay."
"You cannot in the same breath say that you support non-discrimination against LGBT people and that you support DOMA," said Ned Flaherty with Marriage Equality USA. "It makes no sense."
Flaherty adds that since job benefits often depend on marital status, Romney can't claim to be for equality and against same-sex marriage.
"Someone who says that either doesn't know what they're talking about, or they know full well what they're talking about and hope you don't know what they're taking about," says Flaherty......
But during his first run for president, Romney defended "don't ask, don't tell" during a 2007 GOP debate on CNN.
"When I first heard of the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, I thought it sounded awful silly and didn't think that'd be very effective, and I turned out to be wrong," Romney said. "It's been the policy now in the military for, what, 10, 15 years -- and it seems to be working. This is not the time to put in major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on."
"I would call it a sharp retreat from where he was," says Clarke Cooper, head of the gay advocacy group Log Cabin Republicans. He says Romney's position is at odds with core conservative principles of federalism.
"Welcome to my world. This is the frustration," says Cooper. "Gov. Romney is not so different from other conservatives."