Press

Romney to address Christian right national electoral rally

Date: 
October 13, 2006

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
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Rights groups call on Romney to denounce bigoted statements

BOSTON, Oct. 13 —  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 Gov. 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 Oct. 15 “Liberty Sunday” electoral rally at Tremont Temple Baptist Church in downtown Boston (7PM). 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, D.C., boasted to the assembled crowd that his administration succeeded in limiting same-sex 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 the Values 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 Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale, executive director of Somerville-based nonpartisan think tank Political Research Associates, said, “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 same-sex marriages limit religious liberty.”

Sue Hyde, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force spokesperson and longtime Massachusetts resident, said, “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?

Gov. Romney appears to have hitched his campaign wagon to the Christian right. Ann Romney, the governor’s wife, will speak at the Liberty Sunday electoral rally 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 same-sex 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 same-sex marriage and abortion — a frame that points to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 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 Romney, speaking around the country, seems to be intensifying his courtship of the right wing and is 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 and force states that have not explicitly banned same-sex 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 nonpartisan, 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/commentary the following people are available to talk to the press:

  • The Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, Director, Political Research Associates, 781.760.0745
  • Sue Hyde, Spokesperson, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 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, 617.227.3000

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.