News your connection to The Boston Globe

Defying the elites, Romney stands tall

THE ESTABLISHMENT turned out in force for a same-sex wedding in Boston last week. When longtime partners Mitchell Adams and Kevin Smith were married in one of the oldest churches in America on Tuesday afternoon, they were joined by a glittering array of VIPs.

Among the guests at the 300-year-old King's Chapel were two former Republican governors of Massachusetts, Boston's mayor and commissioner of police, the president of the state Senate, a former attorney general, a bishop of the Episcopal Church, and pew after pew of influential doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs.

Whatever else might be said about same-sex marriage, elites in Massachusetts have clearly accepted it. The public at large may not yet be ready to radically alter society's most basic institution -- even in the Bay State, a majority still says marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman. But the attendance at a gay wedding of so many movers and shakers from both sides of the aisle is a good indication of which way the cultural winds are blowing. Less and less is it politically risky to openly support same-sex marriage. Increasingly, it is becoming risky not to.

Which brings us to Mitt Romney. The governor was not among the gentry at the Adams-Smith wedding on Tuesday. He was in Washington, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee why the high court of his own state was wrong to throw out the timeless definition of marriage. His testimony was an occasion of genuine leadership. Few mainstream politicians have stepped up to make a principled case in support of that timeless definition, and so far none has done so as cogently as Romney.

He began by arguing that a long-established consensus should not be casually discarded. "Should we abandon marriage as we know it and as it was known by the framers of our Constitution?" Romney asked. " Were generations that spanned thousands of years and all the civilizations of the world wrong about marriage? . . . Or is it more likely that four [judges] in Massachusetts have erred?"

The Goodridge case was brought by adult plaintiffs, and Romney noted that their complaint was framed as an issue of adult equality: If heterosexual couples have the right to marry, then homosexual couples should be entitled to marry as well. "But marriage is not solely about adults," Romney argued. It is also about creating a safe and stable environment "for the nurturing and development of children." Societies need children and children need mothers and fathers -- that is why the state has such a strong interest in the nature of marriage. The familiar definition, Romney said, conveys a normative message, a message about society's ideal: "Children . . . have the right to have a mother and a father."   Continued...

1   2    Next 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months