On same-sex adoption, Romney may rile social conservatives
May 12th, 2012
10:12 AM ET
11 years ago

On same-sex adoption, Romney may rile social conservatives

(CNN) – When Mitt Romney said in an interview Friday it was up to states to determine the rights of gay couples to adopt children, he was expressing a view that many moderate conservatives hold regarding rights for same-sex couples. However, Romney's stance puts him at odds with many social conservatives, whose support he's continuing to court and whose votes he'll need to win the White House in November.

"In my state, individuals of the same sex were able to adopt children. In my view, that's something that people have a right to do," Romney said in an interview with Fox News Thursday. "But to call that marriage is something that in my view is a departure from the real meaning of that word."

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In an interview Friday, he didn't go so far, saying the issue of same-sex adoption was best left to state legislatures.

"Actually I think all states but one allow gay adoption, so that's a position which has been decided by most of the state legislatures, including the one in my state some time ago," Romney said in an interview with CNN affiliate WBTV. "So I simply acknowledge the fact that gay adoption is legal in all states but one."

On CNN Friday, Bay Buchanan, a Romney adviser, summed up the candidate's position.

"He acknowledges it's a state issue," she said. "They had that up in Massachusetts. He did nothing to change it, but he thinks the best route for adoption is for children to have a mom or a dad. He thinks a traditional family is far better for children and those states that do choose to do otherwise he didn't make any attempt to change it. So that's where his position is there."

On same-sex adoption, Romney's view is more moderate than many social conservatives, who argue states are putting children at risk by placing them in same-sex homes. In an interview with CNS News ahead of the Iowa caucuses in January, former candidate Rick Santorum decried the practice.

“The state is not doing a service to the child and to society by not putting that child in a home where there is a mother and a father,” he said. “This is common sense. This is nature."

Later in the interview, Santorum recalled being confronted about his position.

"A lesbian woman came up to me and said, ‘Why are you denying me my right?’ I said, ‘Well, because it’s not a right.’ It’s a privilege that society recognizes because society sees intrinsic value to that relationship over any other relationship," Santorum said.

Janice Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, a think-tank associated with Concerned Women for America, called putting children in same-sex households "unconscionable."

"It is really unconscionable to place children in other types of households when the data is clear regarding the benefits of married mom-and-dad families and there are plenty of married mom-and-dad families on adoption waiting lists," Crouse said.

Crouse added the question of same-sex adoption was principally a distraction from other issues, like the nation's stalled economic recovery and the unemployment rate.

Asked on CNN if his stance would hurt his standing among Christian evangelicals, Romney adviser Buchanan said most social conservatives were focused on the larger issue of same-sex marriage.

"As for social conservatives, many of them, some of them out there are concerned about those issues," Buchanan said. "I heard a little talk about that today, but the big issue and clearly the most passionate issue they feel about is gay marriage and pro life. And those issues Governor Romney is very solid on. The evangelical community is already beginning, have started to move behind him."

Romney's position on same-sex adoption - that he defers to states to make their own rules - goes back at least 18 years, to 1994. That was the year Romney made his first foray into politics by running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. He told the Boston Herald then that he'd leave gay adoption “up to the states. I would not oppose it or require it."

More than a decade later, Romney staked out a similar position while acting as a surrogate for Sen. John McCain during the 2008 presidential election.

Romney was asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a July 2008 interview on "The Situation Room" if he believed states should allow same-sex couples to adopt. Romney pointed to his own record as Massachusetts' governor.

"I didn't oppose that here in Massachusetts," Romney said. "My view was the best setting for a child to be raised was where there was a mom and a dad, but I did not say let's put in place a law that would prevent a court from deciding that a child, instead of being in an orphanage, should be with a same-sex couple, or a single mom or a single dad, you leave that up to the court and let them make that decision."

In March 2012, at a CNN debate in Arizona, Romney took another angle on the issue, saying religious institutions providing adoption services should be exempt from laws allowing gay couples to adopt.

He explained that, as governor as Massachusetts, "we battled to help the Catholic Church stay in the adoption business."

He continued, "The amazing thing was that while the Catholic Church was responsible for half the adoptions in my state - half the adoptions - they had to get out of that business because the legislature wouldn't support me and give them an exemption from having to place children in homes where there was a mom and a dad on a preferential basis."

On this point, Romney is at odds with recent polling that shows a majority of Americans believe religious institutions should not be exempt from providing adoption services to same-sex couples.

More than six-in-10 Americans, as polled by the Public Religion Research Institute in March, said religious agencies receiving federal funding should not be able to refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

In the same survey, a majority of those polled (54%) said they were in support of allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Forty percent opposed same-sex adoption.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. kate

    This months Salt Lake City Magazine cover article, "The Myth of Mitt". Read it!

    May 12, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. macrasta

    poor Romney!...he sees how much money President Obama hauled in ..so now he is etch-a-sketching again..lol

    May 12, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. Maxx

    I guess the bully can't quite make up his mind where he should be on this issue. Surprise, surprise. He'll figure out a position sooner or later.

    May 12, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    if it riles the far right to a boiling point then Mitt will either walk it back or claim he "mis-spoke" WAIT FOR IT!

    May 12, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  5. ST

    Am appealing to independents who do not belong to either party and have a thorough deep thinking of whom can lead them and the rest of us. Romney has not that gut of standing firm on anything and stick on it, whether it is accepted by majority or whether it is good or bad. We have witnessed many times changing his positions accordingly. It is up to you independents either to sink the country or rescue it by making the right choice.

    May 12, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. judy

    hey he will just flip flop on this and all will be well. then he can go back to being a bully wich repos find ok too. Thank god Obama didn't hold anyone down and cut off their hair in high school can you imagin the fall out from that. Angry black man accost gay student. My oh My repos would have a field day. Double standard what double standard? Obama 2012

    May 12, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Conservatives want to rid America of sin and hatred. They are reluctantly placing their hope in Willard the Millionaire Mormon whom they hope will end the reign of a black president, wipe out democracy, and set America on a path of prosperity for the 1%ers while the rest of us fend for ourselves like beggars and orphans without a home and nobody to turn to for help. But now they are seeing that Willard says and does anything at the moment to appease the concerns that he may not have their best interest at heart. Willard is such a BIG liar, he is claiming credit for the auto bailout THAT WORKED only because Obama lent the cash to them to retool and restructure. Romney is a bored millionaire who is just tickled pink that he is playing his favorite game called "Running for President." In truth Etch-a-Sketch Willard, does not care AT ALL about anyone except his rich friends and his immediate family. He has deceived conservatives into thinking he actually believes what he is running for is the right way to go. In reality, Willard has blinders on and he refuses to even acknowledge there is a plurality of Americans all with different views, backgrounds and cultures – you know, like the waves of immigrants who came to this country in hope of a better life. Conservatives want an America where everyone is white, wealthy, gun loving, and hateful towards anyone who is of color. Conservatives want to force women into servitude and then keep duct tape over their mouths and wombs. Obama is going to win reelection, the GOP is going to lose the House and Ted Nugent will shoot himself in the head.

    May 12, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. bcrunner

    OMG!!!!! How can this man say that it's OK for gays to adopt children, but they have no right to marry!! How can he say this with a straight face is beyond me!! If we want children to be raised in loving family environment, and it's OK of gays to adopt, why you would deny the couples who is raising them the opportunity to marry is just ridiculous.... Does this make sense to anyone else????

    May 12, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. MajorCrisis

    Although I don't like Romney as a person, and disagree with his social conservatism, I find his position on this Mountain of a mole hill issue rational. Given his views, he seems to be finding a way to be loyal to his values but recognize he is functioning as a social leader and therefore needs to give some accommodation to all citizens, not just a few.

    This is all such a tempest in a teapot anyway. Refusal to recognize gay marrage is going to go the way of refusing to let women vote. Moral degeneracy, cultural disintegration and yes, complete destruction of the family were all predicted early in the 20th century as politicians debated extending fundamental human civil rights to women. Just go back and read the debates in the New York senate. And, as always happens, the end of the world predicted by social conservatives NEVER EVER happens.

    Death has the ultimate say here and all generations pass. Everything changes and conservatives always loose– or we would all still be living in ancient Greece, and women would never be able to vote. Patience and this too will pass.

    May 12, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    The closest Romney will ever get to the White House is in name only the day after Obama wins his re-election, he takes his dog out on the White House lawn for a walk and to greet the Press and stops to scoop the poop his dog makes with a newspaper with Willard-the-middle-class-killer’s name on the front declaring, "Obama Wins Re-election while Romney Loses bid for White House by a wide margin."

    May 12, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. gg

    mitt might have to build himself a white house in the cayman islands

    May 12, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. Ozzie

    So, Mitt, gay couples can act like good parents, they just can't love like good parents, and have that love sealed in a sacred ritual of marriage. You are such a silly fellow, Mitt.

    May 12, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. chuck weidemann

    Romney walks a thin line on every issue that he sees as critical to attract independent voters. His base will never consider anyone else and beating Obama is all the motive they need to vote...so It's sit back and watch the clown juggle and walk the tight rope. Great for a circus act....terrible for a leader!!!

    May 12, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Larry L

    Romney is trying to play it both ways – again.

    May 12, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. Mike in Texas

    Doesn't say a lot for a person who will give up their beliefs in order to hold a position. Soulless is what Romney is. He is so desperate to be President he will say and do anything if he thinks it will help him.

    So say he wins. What is he going to do? I don't think he has a clue. He will let the Bush cronies he as hired run the country again. We need that like we need a hole in our head.

    May 12, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Independent Voters

    Romney is a flip flop so agree with gays to adop children and against gay marriage. Romney I think you in the closet.
    Romney would dont remember he said that in camera.

    May 12, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. musings

    The reason decisions about home and family are left to the states, although interracial marriage is not (it was once forbidden in many states) is that it concerns matters which will come into the probate courts and will possibly involve social services which are different in different states (in some states, religious bodies heavily influence those services – for instance the Catholic Church in Massachusetts). When Massachusetts allowed gay parents to adopt, Catholic Charities withdrew from providing adoption services (but their social workers also quit en masse in protest of this attempt to end gay adoptions).

    Had I been raised by my aunt and my mother, with my sometimes violent father divorcing my mother earlier than he did, my life would have been bliss. How different that would have been from two (openly) gay women raising me, I am not sure, but my children went to school with kids in such families and they seemed very happy.

    May 12, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |