Pro-family advocates defend Romney's record on life, marriage

BOSTON (CNA) -- A group of nine individuals from pro-family organizations in Massachusetts have written an open letter defending Mitt Romney's record of protecting marriage, promoting a culture of life and supporting religious freedom during his time as governor of the state.

The Dec. 30 letter attempts to "set the record straight" after Romney's commitment to life and marriage was questioned in media reports.

Among the signatories were Raymond L. Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon, both former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See, as well as former executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, Gerald D. D'Avolio.

Romney's critics have been skeptical of his claim that he had a pro-life conversion in 2004, after years of supporting legal abortion. They have also attacked the governor for allowing marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples in Massachusetts. Romney opponents have also raised concerns about his Mormon faith, arguing that it may be a threat to mainstream Christianity.

However, the pro-family advocates argued that as governor, Romney "staunchly defended traditional marriage" and worked to overturn same-sex "marriage" in the state.

Governor Romney not only denounced the 2003 court decision that legalized same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts, but he also took concrete action against it, working to enforce "a little-known 1913 law" to prohibit local clerks from issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state couples, the signatories said.

By doing so, the governor prevented a flood of homosexual couples from across the country from getting "married" in Massachusetts and then demanding that their home states recognize the unions.

The signers also denied claims that Gov. Romney issued same-sex marriage licenses or ordered town clerks and justices of the peace to perform same-sex "marriages." Rather, they said, it was the court that ordered same-sex "marriages" to be performed in the state.

They explained that the Governor's Office of Legal Counsel issued provisional advisory instructions and new policies that went into effect "only after and as a direct result of" a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that the state could not deny marriage to same-sex couples.

In addition, the pro-family advocates said, Gov. Romney provided "strong, active support" for a record-breaking 2005 Massachusetts petition drive to craft a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The governor then drew attention to the legislators' repeated failure to carry out their constitutional obligation and vote on the marriage amendment, even filing a lawsuit to put pressure on the legislators to do so.

Gov. Romney was also active in promoting abstinence education during his time in office, the letter says. In 2006, public schools in Massachusetts began offering a classroom abstinence program for middle school students, run by a faith-based group in the state.

The pro-family advocates also argued that the governor demonstrated a commitment to religious freedom. They pointed to his defense of Catholic Charities of Boston when it refused to violate its core beliefs by arranging adoptions for homosexual couples.

The signatories further said that Gov. Romney has worked to support a culture of life by vetoing bills that would have expanded access to the abortifacient "morning-after pill" and provided for widespread embryonic stem cell research.

They denied claims that Gov. Romney is responsible for taxpayer funded abortion in Massachusetts, saying that the decision was made not by the governor but by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that abortions must be covered for women who are eligible for Medicaid.

The letter acknowledged the "worrisome" comments that Romney made in favor of legalized abortion during his 1994 Senate campaign. However, it said, the governor's actions show that he "has learned much since 1994."

The signatories argued that during his four years as governor, Romney "has proven that he shares our values." His actions, they said, "have positively and demonstrably impacted the social climate of Massachusetts."