Romney: Same-Sex Adoption ‘Should Be Assessed on a State-by-State Basis’

By Fred Lucas | October 12, 2011 | 3:52pm EDT

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gestures at former Sen. Rick Santorum as Rep. Ron Paul looks on at a Republican presidential debate at Dartmouth, N.H., on Oct. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Toni Sandys)

( - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, believes that adoption of children by same-sex couples is an issue that should be decided on a state-by-state basis, according to campaign spokesman Ryan Willliams.

In 2007, during his last presidential campaign, Romney insisted the U.S. Constitution needed a federal marriage amendment because, he said, “I think every child deserves a mom and a dad.”

A year before that, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney told the Boston Globe that same-sex couples have “a legitimate interest in being able to receive adoptive services.”

In a statement emailed to on Tuesday, Romney spokesman Williams said: “Gov. Romney has consistently said that gay adoption should be assessed on a state-by-state basis--not at the federal level.”

Since at least 2006, Romney has stated that he favors a federal marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. At the same time, he has repeatedly stated since that time that adoptions by same-sex couples is a matter for states to decide—and that he would let same-sex adoptions go forward in his own state of Massachusetts. Romney has further said, however, that adoption agencies--particularly religious organizations--should be able to favor heterosexual couples for adoptions.

In response to questions at a town hall meeting in Hopkinton, N.H., on Monday, Romney said he favors traditional marriage and believes children are better served by a mother and father. But he also said he would favor “partnership agreements” between same-sex couples that would allow certain benefits afforded to married couples. Aside from hospital visitation rights, Romney did not elaborate on what these benefits would be. asked if they would include allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

In response, Romney spokesman Williams said it was an issue Romney believed “should be assessed on a state-by-state basis” and referenced several statements the candidate has made on the matter.

On Oct. 17, 2006, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Romney: “Should--do you believe that gays and lesbians should be able to adopt children?”

Romney responded: “Well, they are able to adopt children.”

Blitzer followed: “But do you think that’s good?”

Romney said: “And I’m not going to change that.”

In an interview with ABC News on Feb. 18, 2007, Romney said: “There are gay couples that are having children of their own, and, that’s--obviously, that’s their right.”

During the town hall meeting in New Hampshire on Monday, a person in the audience asked Romney about his assertion that children are better off with a mother and father.

“There are a lot of folks that get raised by one parent if they’re divorced, through death or through a parent out of wedlock,” Romney said. “But in my view, a society recognizes that the ideal setting for raising a child is when you have the benefit of two people working together and where one is male and one is female.”

“I happen to believe that and that’s the reason I think as a society we say, ‘You know what? We’re going to call marriage what it’s been called for 6,000 years or longer: A relationship between one man and one woman,’” Romney said. “That’s my own view and there are alternative views.”

Another audience member followed up on the matter.

“What I would support is letting people who are of the same gender form--if you will--partnership agreements if they want to have a partnership with someone else and have as a result of that such things as hospital visitation rights and similar benefits of that nature,” Romney answered.

Romney did not specify what other benefits would be included or if a “partnership agreement” is the same as civil union or domestic partnership laws adopted in several states such as California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island and Oregon. These state laws vary but they grant many of the same rights granted in heterosexual marriages to same-sex couples who enter into legal agreements that are note called marriages.

The Romney campaign pointed to media interviews in which Romney addressed the question of same-sex adoption when he was governor of Massachusetts and when he was a candidate for Republican presidential nomination in the 2008 election cycle.

A March 17, 2007 San Francisco Chronicle story--headlined “Romney Defends General, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy”—quoted Romney on the matter.

“‘I supported the federal effort for traditional marriage, defining marriage as a relationship between a man and woman,” Romney said. “One of the major purposes of marriage is the nurturing and development of children.”

He continued: “And society has, from the beginning of recorded time, established marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman because access to both genders is helpful in the development of a child.”

The Chronicle article went on to say: “Asked then if same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children, Romney said, ‘That’s something that is assessed on a state-by-state basis,’ and he noted that Massachusetts allowed such adoptions. But ‘I do believe adoption agencies should be able to favor traditional couples,’ particularly in religious-based organizations, he said.”

On Feb. 18, 2007, Romney addressed the matter on ABC’s “This Week.”

“At the national level we should define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. And this isn’t about adult rights,” Romney told interviewer George Stephanopoulos. “A lot of people get confused that gay marriage is about treating gay people the same as treating heterosexual people. And that’s not the issue involved here. This is about the development and nurturing of children. Marriage is primarily an institution to help develop children and children’s development; I believe is greatly enhanced by access to a mom and a dad. I think every child deserves a mom and a dad. And that’s why I’m so consistent and vehement in my view that we should have a federal amendment which defines marriage in that way.”

Stephanopoulos said to Romney: “I was going to ask you about that because in 2005 in South Carolina you actually seemed to mock the idea of gays and lesbians adopting and bearing children.” He then played a video clip of Romney saying the following: “Today same-sex couples are marrying under the law in Massachusetts. Some are actually having children born to them. We’ve been asked to change their birth certificates to remove the phrase mother and father and replace it with parent A and parent B. It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact.”

After the clip, Romney responded to Stephanopoulos: “No, that wasn’t my intent. I don’t mean to mock them in any way and I know we have gay adoption in Massachusetts, other states do. It’s a decision made state by state. And there are—”

Stephanopoulos then asked: “Are you for it?”

Romney said: “And there are gay couples that are having--that are having children of their own. And that’s--obviously, that’s their right. But my belief is that the ideal setting for a child is where there’s a mom and dad.”

On Oct. 17, 2006, when he was still governor of Massachusetts, Romney talked about the issue with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“Well, because marriage is a fundamental institution in our society. It’s not primarily about adults,” Romney said. “The challenge that people have who are staunch defenders of gay marriage focus on adult rights. But marriage is primarily not about adults, but about kids. A child and their development and nurturing is enhanced by access and by the nurturing of two parents of two different genders. And, so, as we think about the development of children, and the future of our nation and its ability to raise a generation, we need to have homes where there are moms and dads. So, I favor traditional marriage, not out of any sense of discrimination.”

Later in the interview, Blitzer said, “Should lesbians or gay men who are same-sex partners, should they be able--should they be able to adopt children?”

Romney responded: “Well, that’s a state-by-state issue.”

Blitzer tried to interject: “What do you –?”

Romney said: “What I--but my view is that we should have a constitutional amendment that says that marriage is defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. And the reason it’s so important to do at a federal level--and I know some people say they are against gay marriage, but let the states decide. Well, if one state decides that they are going to have gay marriage, and they marry people from all over the country, then, every state ends up with gay marriage, because people move around this country. And, ultimately, the Supreme Court may well say that, under the full faith and credit clause, if you’re married in one state--”

Blitzer went on to ask: “Should--do you believe that gays and lesbians should be able to adopt children?”

Romney said: “Well, they are able to adopt children.”

Blitzer asked: “But do you think that’s good?”

Romney answered: “And I’m not going to change that.”

Blitzer against asked: “Is that good?”

Romney again said: “I’m not going to change that.”

A March 14, 2006 Boston Globe story--“Romney Shifts Tone on Gay Adoption”--said Romney would file a “very narrow” bill in the state legislature to allow Catholic Charities and other religious groups to exclude same-sex couples from adoption.

“I know that there will be some gay couples who will say that this could be discriminatory against us,” the Globe quoted Romney as saying. “Except that there are many, many other agencies that can meet the needs of those gay couples, and I recognize that they have a legitimate interest in being able to receive adoptive services.”

Later in the Globe story, Romney said: “Americans respect all people. We also recognize that there are many settings where children are raised. But we choose to recognize one setting as the ideal.”

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