Mitt Romney, Massachusetts and Beyond
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is playing a key role in promoting a national campaign by Christian Right activists to mobilize voters to elect Republican candidates in the 2006 mid-term elections. The campaign portrays gay marriage in bigoted terms as a contagion that will spread from his state, and which threatens to destroy the American family. This rhetorical frame appears designed to be used by leading Christian Right groups through the Presidential election in 2008, in which Romney is seen as a likely candidate.
An October 15, 2006 rally at Tremont Temple in downtown Boston, “Liberty Sunday,” was the first sign of this campaign for many Massachusetts residents; however this rally was just part of a coordinated national strategy that began to be implemented months ago. Prior to the rally, Romney appeared in a promotional video for the event and the related nationwide simulcast. The video was screened twice at the Christian Right “Washington Briefing: 2006 Values Voters Summit,” in late September, where Romney delivered a speech and was warmly greeted by over 1,500 attendees. That event, under the banner “Family, Faith, & Freedom,” also featured speakers who said:
• Adoption of children by gay parents was the worst form of child abuse;
• Calling gay people “faggots” was acceptable slang;
• The killing of seven abortion providers in recent years was a restrained response given the millions of babies killed;
• Opponents of the Christian Right agenda were siding with Satan.
This framing strategy also attempts to draw a connection linking “Family, Faith, & Freedom” in which gay marriage and abortion are threatening America from within, while terrorism is threatening the family from without—a frame that points to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, while leaping over criticism over the war in Iraq, and other specific military interventions in the Middle East.
While Romney claims 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 (FMA), and force states that have not explicitly banned gay 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, with its goal of rolling back gay rights and banning abortion, will be in reach.
While there is an attempt to portray these issues as non-partisan, numerous Christian Right activists make it clear that “values voters” who are concerned with “Family, Faith, & Freedom” should vote for Republican political candidates.
Although it is not fair to assume Governor Romney endorses all the bigoted and outlandish claims made by the Christian Right activists with whom he has associated himself, it is fair to ask him if he agrees or disagrees with specific claims that are centerpieces of this partisan political operation.
Note that Eric Appleman of Democracy in Action has provided a transcript of the Romney speech.~83
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