The 57th United States presidential election has once again predictably narrowed down to only two realistic presidential candidates: the incumbent, President Barack Obama for the Democrats, and Gov. Mitt Romney, for the Republicans. Accordingly, we've compiled the most comprehensive database of their positions on all the topics and all the issues to assist you, the electorate, in casting your vote on November 6. Just scroll down below the introductions and click one of the 29 issues and 12 profile categories to compare the political stances and biographical data of 2012 Presidential Candidates.
Romney’s position on the issue of LGBT has undergone an evolution over the course of his 18-year political career, reflecting his personal struggle over the issue – although, for the record, he insists that his stance has always been the same, and cites the changing definition of the term ‘gay rights’ as the source of the misconception.
He was supportive of the LGBT movement’s cause early in his political career, especially during his campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat in 1994. Following a meeting with the local chapter of the Log Cabin Club, which is the only pro-LGBT Republican organization of note in the country, Romney wrote to the club members’ to reaffirm his commitment to their cause ( original letter ).
“I am pleased to have had an opportunity to talk with you and to meet many of you personally during your September meeting. I learned a great deal from those discussions and many thoughtful questions you posed. As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.
I am not unaware of my opponents considerable record in the area of civil rights, or the commitment of Massachusetts voters to the principle of equality for all Americans. For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent's record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”
In an appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight last year, Romney outlined his views on the subject, making a clear distinction between his faith and politics.
Morgan : What is the gay right that you’re in favor of?
Romney : Equal rights in employment, equal rights in, I mean, for instance, as the Governor, I had members of my team that were gay. I appointed a couple of judges who apparently I find out were gay. Look, I didn’t ask people their sexual orientation
Morgan : Does your faith mean that you view homosexuality as a sin?
Romney : I separate quite distinctly matters of personal faith from the leadership that one has in a political sense.
Morgan : Can you do that?
Romney : Absolutely.
Morgan : Seriously?
Romney : You don’t begin to apply the doctrine of religion to responsibility for guiding a nation or guiding a state.
Morgan : But what is the Mormon position on homosexuality being a sin?
Romney : You know, that’s something you can take up with the church. I’m not a spokesman for my church. I’m not a spokesman for my church, and one thing I’m not gonna do in running for president is become a spokesman for my church, or apply a religious test which simply is forbidden by the constitution. I’m not going there.
June 7, 2011: Romney on Piers Morgan Tonight
Romney on Marriage
I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I disagree with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. I will support an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution to make that expressly clear. Of course, basic civil rights, and certain appropriate benefits should be available to people in non-traditional relationships. But marriage is a special institution between a man and a woman, and our Constitution and laws should reflect that.
November 18, 2003: Romney’s statement as Governor of Massachusetts, reacting to the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is protected in the Massachusetts Constitution.
Romney on Civil Unions<
From day one I've opposed the move for same-sex marriage and its equivalent, civil unions
February 21, 2005: Speaking at a Republican rally in South Carolina Republicans
Chris Matthews: Do you think there's any difference, really, between a gay marriage and something called a civil union? Mitt Romney: Well, I would rather have neither, to tell you the truth. I'd rather that domestic partner benefits, such as hospital - hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples. I don't want civil unions or gay marriage. But there is a difference, even when just the word is the difference.And the difference is that, if you indicate as a society that you're indifferent between a same-sex couple marrying and a heterosexual couple marrying, then it means our schools and other institutions are going to have to indicate that there is no difference whatsoever, and that obviously has societal consequences that are important.
Question: How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military.
Romney on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
Question: How do you feel about gays serving openly in the military. Romney: That’s already occurred and I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage. < Question: But you’re comfortable with it? Romney: I was not comfortable making the change during a period of conflict, by virtue of the complicating the features of a new program in the middle of two wars going on, but those wars are winding down and moving to that direction at this stage no longer presents that problem.
November 9, 2011: Romney meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.
Romney on ‘Defense of Marriage Act’
The actions that I take as president depends on part on the state of play in Washington, the people that are there and what options exists - but certainly I would defend the Defense of Marriage Act which the current president has refused to defend. I believe that the Defense of Marriage Act was well constructed and should be maintained.
November 9, 2011: Romney meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register.
Obama is fundamentally supportive towards the LGBT community, but admits to internal conflicts in reconciling his social and religious beliefs.
Update: President Obama publicly announced his endorsement of same-sex marriage during the taping of an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts on May 9, 2012.
“… I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious belief. But I have to tell you that, over the course of several years as I talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that ‘Don't Ask Don't Tell’ is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage - at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
It's interesting, some of this is also generational. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently. It doesn't make sense to them and, frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”
Did you discuss this with Mrs. Obama, the same sex marriage issue? No, no, this is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people. We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule; treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
Obama On LGBT
For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it's clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they're often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I'm constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians.
July 2, 2009: President Obama's session with journalists from the Roman Catholic news media
Obama on Marriage
“It's a union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is a sacred union. God's in the mix…
… Historically, because historically, we have not defined marriage in our constitution. It’s been a matter of state law that has been our tradition.
August 16, 2008: Obama speaking to Reverend Rick Warren during the Saddleback Civil Forum in Lake Forest, California
Obama on Civil Unions
“I would’ve supported and continued to support a civil union that provides all benefits that are available for a legally sanctioned marriage. And it is then, as I’ve said, up to religious denominations to make a determination as to whether they want to recognized that as marriage or not…
… But I would also say this, that if I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said it's less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state.
Now, it's not for me to suggest that you shouldn't be troubled by these issues. I understand that and I'm sympathetic to it. But my job as president is going to be to make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day to day basis for loving same sex couples all across the country, that those rights are recognized and enforced by my White House and by my Justice Department.”
August 9, 2007: Obama speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation-organized forum, LOGO Watch Video
Obama on the Persecution of LGBT Youths
Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the deaths of several young people who were bullied and taunted for being gay, and who ultimately took their own lives. As a parent of two daughters, it breaks my heart. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this country.
We’ve got to dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing up. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe forall of our kids. And to every young person out there you need to know that if you’re in trouble, there are caring adults who can help.
I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay. But I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of kids, the sense of being alone or apart – I know can just wear on you. And when you’re teased or bullied, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being different, or for not fitting in with everybody else.
But what I want to say is this. You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied. And there is a whole world waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. And so, if you ever feel like because of bullying, because of what people are saying, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your parents, teachers, folks that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them, don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.
The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. And more than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this country a better place.
October 21, 2010: Obama speaking in support of the It Gets Better project for LGBT youths.
Obama Including LGBT Rights As Part of His Foreign Policy Objectives
“No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.
And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week the United States signed a new Declaration on Women's Participation. Next year we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. This is what our commitment to human progress demands.”
September 21, 2011: Obama addressing the United Nations General Assembly, New York
Obama on DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)
A decision by the Senate (65-31) to repeal the DADT was met with approval by the White House.
“Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend. By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.
As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known. And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done. It is time to close this chapter in our history. It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed. It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly. I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.”
December 18, 2010: A statement by Obama
Obama on ‘Defense of Marriage Act’
1996 Defense of Marriage Act
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
Obama believes that the DoMA is unconstitutional, and has directed his administration to stop defending the Act in court, although they will continue to enforce it until Congress repeals the act.
“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny. The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional. Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.”
February 23, 2011: Statement by Attorney-General Eric Holder