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Romney’s Former Intern Says Gay Rights Flier is Legit

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Jan 30, 2012
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Although GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has said he doesn’t believe in gay marriage, the former governor of Massachusetts has supported gay rights in the past -- a past he has tried deny and from which he separated himself. That past has recently come back to haunt him as a former intern who worked on Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign told the press that a gay rights flier that was distributed during Boston’s 2002 Gay Pride Weekend was given the green-light by the campaign.

Romney’s spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom told the Huffington Post earlier this month that he was clueless about where the pro-gay rights flier came from, which touted the former governor’s and lieutenant governor Kerry Healy’s name.

The pink fliers in question read, "Mitt and Kerry wish you a great pride weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference."

"I don’t know where those pink flyers came from," Ferhnstrom told the Huffington Post. "I was the communications director on the 2002 campaign. I don’t know who distributed them ... I never saw them and I was the communications director."

Joe Barro, who was an intern with Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, contradicted Ferhnstrom and told Buzzfeed that the campaign sent interns to post and hand out the pink fliers around Boston Common.

"On Pride Weekend, the campaign sent a contingent of about a half-dozen of us to the post-parade festival on Boston Common to hand out those flyers," he said in an email. "The thing was organized by a full-time staffer," he said. Unfortunately, Barro said he could not reveal her name.

The contradictions continue when Ferhnstrom said that Romney has not changed his views on gay marriage and has always been against same-sex marriage and civil unions.

"He has not been in favor of civil unions, if by civil unions you mean the equivalency to marriage but without the name marriage. What he has favored, and he talked about this, I believe, last night, was a form of domestic partnership or a contractual relationship with reciprocal benefits."

Romney’s website at the time, however, says that the GOP politician fully supports civil unions. More importantly, when Romney was governor of Massachusetts in 2004, he allowed the state’s town clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Huffington Post also reported that Log Cabin Republicans (an organization that works to support gay rights) said Romney was very comfortable around gays. In 1994, the politician was looking for their support and met with them at a restaurant in Boston’s South End -- one of the city’s gay neighborhoods. He was questioned about his views on LGBT rights and was asked, "What he would do if one of his five sons told him he was gay."

"Without missing a beat, he said, ’How do you know that hasn’t happened?’" a lawyer who said he was in the room told the online newspaper. "He went on and made it clear it hadn’t. But it was an interesting thing to say. It was not a ’stiff politician’ reaction, not a stock response," the lawyer said. "To me, it demonstrated a sort of comfort level you don’t see in a lot of politicians."

Additionally, Buzzfeed miraculously discovered a newspaper from 1994, which features Romney on the cover with the headline, "Romney: I’ll be better than Ted [Kennedy] for gay rights."

Romney trying to run from his gay-friendly past has only provided his critics with ammo. Obama’s reelection campaign slammed the GOP presidential candidate about the flier incident.

"After Mitt Romney claimed he’d be a stronger advocate for gay rights than Senator Kennedy when he was running for office in Massachusetts, and one day after saying that gays should have ’full rights,’ Romney’s campaign today disavowed a flyer that simply said ’all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference,’" Ben LaBolt, the Obama campaign’s press secretary, said. "What on that flyer does Mitt Romney disagree with? Does he not believe all Americans should have equal rights? Who is he trying to pander to now? This is why Americans will have trouble trusting Mitt Romney -- he doesn’t keep his word."

The anti-gay group, MassResistance, has gone after Romney as well and said, "Despite recent statements across the country by Governor Mitt Romney claiming he’s pro-life, pro-family and a committed conservative, a broad investigation of his actual statements, actions, and public positions over the years indicates that he has spent his entire career speaking and governing as a liberal - and that his newfound conversion to conservatism very likely coincides with his candidacy for the presidency."

Despite being attacked by both the left and the right for his views on LGBT rights, Romney currently remains in the lead for the coveted GOP presidential nomination.

This article is part of our "Election 2012" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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