President Obama has explained that he is “evolving” on the issue of marriage for same-gender couples.  Is Mitt Romney also evolving, but in the opposite direction?

Romney has been criticized by conservatives for passing same-sex marriage when he was the governor of Massachusetts.  Mass Resistance researcher Amy Contrada wrote:

“Mitt Romney has claimed that he ‘took every conceivable step within the law to defend traditional marriage.’ This is simply not true. In fact, all he had to do to prevent ‘gay marriage’ from beginning in 2004 was follow the clear separation of powers laid out in the state Constitution. But instead, he kowtowed to the state high court’s dream of ‘gay marriage’ in its 2003 opinion, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.”

But Romney has been endorsed by other conservative Republicans, including NJ governor Chris Christie who recently vetoed same-sex marriage is his state. And co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, Maggie Gallagher wrote an article, “Mitt Romney Never Flip-Flopped on Marriage:”

“Mitt Romney didn’t just oppose court-ordered same-sex marriage with words, he fought hard, including behind the scenes.

“And on the federal marriage amendment? In June of 2004, Romney testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in favour of the federal marriage amendment.

“Romney’s new mailer in Iowa says he opposes same-sex marriage and supports a federal marriage amendment.

“This is not a flip-flop; it’s the truth. On gay marriage he’s been a rock.”

But NewsMax has a little more background:

“In December 2006, Bay Windows, a Boston-based gay and lesbian newspaper, republished excerpts from an interview it did with Romney in which he stated that the gay and lesbian community ‘needs more support from the Republican Party’ and that it should be up to the states to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage.”

Does this mean that Romney has evolved on the issue?  Or did Romney simply consider it safe to leave the question of SSM to the states, little dreaming that nine years later he would be governor of Massachusetts precisely when that state’s supreme Court decided that preserving marriage for gender-integrated couples was unconstitutional?

“When Romney made the comments in 1994, gay marriage had not yet become a serious issue. But in 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a 4-3 decision, ruled that marriage in the commonwealth would no longer be limited to unions between men and women, Romney pushed for an amendment to the state constitution that would outlaw gay marriage.”

From Mitt Romney’s website:

“…it is so important to preserve traditional marriage – the joining together of one man and one woman. As president, Mitt will not only appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton – but he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”

Why all this contradiction and confusion?  Romney believes Americans should not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.  And, traditional marriage does not discriminate; it is available to both genders. 

More from the Newsmax article:

“I can tell you this, which is I believe gay individuals should enjoy tolerance and respect,” Romney says. “They should have equal opportunities in housing and employment. We shouldn’t discriminate against people based upon their sexual preference or orientation. . . At the same time, I believe that marriage should be reserved for a relationship between one man and one woman. For me, that’s not a matter of discrimination.”

Is that the crux of the matter?  Do some activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue not understand that one can oppose discrimination against people with same-sex attraction and at the same time oppose redefining marriage to include gender-segregated couples?  

Frances Kelly lives in the United States with her husband and daughters. She writes about gender issues for Homegriddle.