The EFM Feature

Over the past several weeks, we have seen some degree of pushback against the Governor from a few social conservatives. Relying on the Governor’s more liberal social positions in his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy and also relying on a lengthy document issued by a group calling itself “MassResistance,” several conservatives have tried to convince us that we are being “fooled” by Governor Romney–that he is a RINO masquerading as a conservative to win our votes. We have addressed some of these arguments, and we will do so in even greater detail next week, but I also wanted to give room for a bit of a debate here on EFM.
I asked conservative activist Steve Baldwin to e-mail me some of his concerns about the Governor, and here is what he sent:

David: Thanks for engaging me. Here’s something you can post.
Well, the problem many conservatives have with Romney is that it’s difficult to detect a consistent track record demonstrating that he’s a social conservative. He first came on my radar screen a few years ago when I found out that his Education Department sent gay activists to California to appear in hearings before a committee of the California Legislature, a body I used to serve in. The programs they were promoting were, of course, being marketed as “anti-bullying” programs, but they encompassed such programs as sending homosexual speakers to the schools, helping schools celebrate “Gay Pride” days, integrating famous homosexuals into history lessons and so forth. Most of these programs were carried out under the auspices of the “Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Affairs” an agency Romney inherited and then doubled in size.
But there are literally dozens of things that the Romney administration did to promote the gay agenda, too many to go into detail here. All one has to do is read the Romney Deception report on the website and it is simply overwhelming. I, for one, know parents whose children have been subjected to the most deceitful and even obscene homosexual propaganda in Massachusetts schools, activities that are carried out by Romney’s Commission, a entity controlled by Commissioners whom he appointed and who are, by the way, all homosexual activists. Perhaps you can show me where Romney created a “Commission on Parental Rights,” or a “Commission of Family Values,” but I haven’t been able to find such a thing.
On the abortion issue, Romney has appointed dozens of liberals to the bench — all of whom I assume are pro-abortion — and this is also indicative of not having a solid worldview. After all, he was making this liberal appointments as recently as a May of 2005, after his so-called pro-life “conversion.”
Also, it is my understanding that every state budget under Romney contained funding for abortion but I cannot find any record of Romney or his appointees opposing such funding, or threatening a veto, or even asking his Dept of Health people to reduce the funding. If he is pro-life, you would think that he would have least tried to reduce state funding of this barbaric procedure.
Then, of course, Romney is on record for forcing private religious hospital to give out the “morning after” pill, even though it violated the religious tenets of the hospitals involved.
Lastly, we have this statement by R. T. Nearly, who directs Pro-Life Massachusetts and is a former President of Massachusetts Citizens For Life (MCFL):
“The question of Gov. Mitt Romney’s record on the abortion issue in Massachusetts is not what he has done, but what he has not done. Since his election as governor, he has not lifted a finger to allow one single unborn child the breath of our environment, and his posture has been to stay aloof from a messy issue. The Romney record in support of our efforts in this state is zero. ”
The full statement is attached above. Sure, Romney has vetoed stem cell research, but all that proves is that he has a mixed record. On the marriage issue, he has done lots of symbolic things, but appointing one of the leading gay marriage legal activists — Steve Abany — to the bench in May of 2005 makes us all question his commitment to this issue. Having a rally in front of the capitol on the marriage issue may be good for the news photographers but it does not make one a conservative.
Conservatives will not support someone with such a strong background of supporting our cultural enemies and the idea that we should all come on board because he suddenly changed his views on these issues about the same time he started considering his candidacy is very suspicious.
Conservatives have been taken for a ride once too many times my friends. But not this time.

My response: First, regarding the Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, let me state that there is no way that I could (or would want to) defend the existence of that commission. I agree wholeheartedly with Steve that such commissions (at Massachusetts and across the country)–far from fostering “tolerance”–are actually enemies of tolerance, relentlessly demonizing people of faith and seeking to suppress our most basic rights of free expression. To the radicals who invariably populate such commissions, traditional morality is an evil that must be stamped out. In fact, quite a bit of my legal work is dedicated to defending conservative Christians who are silenced and excluded because they uphold Biblical views of sexual morality. I wish that commission never existed (as an aside, how is it even a legitimate function of state government to create such commissions?), and–in a perfect world–I wish Governor Romney abolished the commission the moment he took office.
But we don’t live in a perfect world. Governor Romney inherited the commission–it had existed for 10 years before he became governor–and there is no indication that he knew about the full extent of its activities until much later in his administration. Further, while he did provide $250,000 for the Commission in his 2006 budget proposal (a microscopic amount within the context of the state budget), this was not an increase from the previous year. In 2005, the commission received $250,000, and the Governor had vetoed legislative efforts to increase that amount. To put that amount in context, prior funding (in previous administrations) had reached as high as $1.6 million.
Finally–and this is important–the Governor actually abolished the commission last summer:

BOSTON –Gov. Mitt Romney issued an executive order Friday abolishing the state’s 14-year-old governor’s commission on gay and lesbian youth after lawmakers overrode his veto of a bill creating a new commission out of the reach of the governor’s office.
A spokesman for Romney said he issued the executive order because there was no need for two commissions both focused on the needs of gay and lesbian youth.
Romney angered many gay rights activists and lawmakers when he flirted with the idea earlier this year of abolishing the commission, the first of its kind in the nation, after a press release announcing a youth gay pride march was issued without the administration’s blessing.

While I wish the commission never existed and had been abolished earlier (though it is worth considering the effect such a move would have had on the Governor’s ability to deal with the fiscal crisis existing in the Commonwealth at the beginning of his term), it was underfunded compared to previous levels, eventually disbanded, and the Governor did veto the legislature’s newly-created commission (though the Democrat-dominated legislature overcame the veto).
Regarding judges, here I think Steve blurs the difference between federal and state court judges and the federal and state (in this case, Massachusetts) systems of judicial nominations and approvals. First, when we talk about the Governor’s allegedly “liberal” judicial appointments, we are talking about judges who deal primarily with criminal matters–not the constitutional issues that can dominate the federal judicial debate. Given this reality, Governor Romney did not nominate judges who were “liberal” or “leftist” within their job description. The Governor wanted individuals who were tough on crime. As he said, “With regard to those at the district court and clerk magistrate level, their political views aren’t really going to come into play unless their views indicate they will be soft on crime.” So the reality is that the Governor nominated judges who were tough on crime to fill spots that dealt primarily with crime. State court judges at this level have absolutely no say over abortion rights. None. Abortion is primarily a matter of federal–not state–constitutional law.
Second, every one of Governor Romney’s judicial nominees has to be approved by the “Governor’s Council”, a popularly-elected, eight member board that is dominated by Democrats (as is most of Massachusetts state government). Imagine a situation where the President of the United States had to run all of his judicial nominees by a Senate that contained 85% Democrats–most of them of the radical sort. That would change the picture a bit, wouldn’t it? I think the best way to think of Governor Romney’s track record in nominating judges is that he did the best that he could have done.
Regarding abortion, at EFM we have discussed the Governor’s actions on the life issue in great detail. In fact, one of our newest contributors is a prominent pro-life activist in his own right. Needless to say, none of us would be working on this site if we did not believe in the Governor’s pro-life commitment.
But we don’t have to simply believe the Governor’s words on the topic, we can–in fact–look at his record as Governor. Given the fact that he vetoed the morning after pill, vetoed fetal stem cell research, and held the line against Democratic attempts to expand abortion rights in the state, it is hard for me to see R. T. Nearly’s statement above as credible or accurate. And Steve’s statement regarding “forcing” pro-life hospitals to provide the morning-after pill is off-base. State law–enacted by Democrats–forced the hospitals to provide the pill. Such a law can and should be challenged by the hospitals in court. The Governor does not have the standing (or constitutional ability) to mount such a challenge.
In the next few days, you will see more from EFM (and others) as we address the arguments raised by Steve Baldwin and also the arguments raised by MassResistance. In the meantime, we appreciate Steve’s willingness to attach his name to his comments and his willingness to debate these issues.

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