Religion: An Obama win would be the right side of civil-liberties history
In the final days of the election campaign, discussions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and its stand on gay members captured little notice, as debates and Hurricane Sandy held the attention of American voters.
The Tea Party movement and religious conservatives make up a majority of the Republican core base, which translates into little acceptance of activities or individuals judged to be against what is perceived by them as morally wrong.
Religion has played a rather imperceptible, but important part in the presidential campaign. Barack Obama’s stands on social issues have been clear on gay marriage, women’s reproductive rights, support for the poor and inclusion of gays to serve openly in the military.
Mitt Romney’s ever-changing positions make it harder to separate the wheat from chaff on many policies, but his campaign statements indicate a more restrictive stand on abortion, disdain for the poor (47 percent remark) and disapproval of gay marriage.
Romney’s Mormon faith, which includes one of the most antiquated stands on homosexuality of all formalized religions, would likely prevent him from supporting any further advancement of gay rights.
Gay marriage was legal in the state of Massachusetts in 2003, as Romney was sworn in as governor, but he didn’t support gay marriage or civil unions. It was the state’s Supreme Court that required recognition of same-sex marriage.
Nonetheless, Romney, in a genuinely petty way, refused to sign off on a request by the Registry of Vital Records to expand parental options on birth certificates for children born to gay parents. The standard form provided spaces for “father” and “mother” and the Registry simply wanted to add “or second parent.”
Romney, who held positions in the Mormon Church from 1977 to 1986, did try to soften his stand on gays and lesbians during the campaign, telling reporters that his faith teaches acceptance of “same-gender” individuals and they are welcome in the church. He failed to say it would only be under the condition of celibacy.
Members of the Mormon Church are not all supporters of Romney.
A recent Washington Post report listed dozens of Mormon women, who testified why they intend to vote to re-elect President Obama. Here is one:
Jerilyn Hassell Pool, 41, freelance art director in Medford, Ore.: “President Obama is committed to looking out for those whose voices go unheard—women, gays, the poor, and the elderly. I appreciate that his efforts are always pragmatic and educated, rather than impulsive and quick. And Mitt Romney reminds me of every well-meaning yet overbearing male church leader who’s ever underestimated me.”
On Saturday, an Obama official reconfirmed the president's support for legislation that would prevent the federal government from denying gay couples the same protections received by their straight counterparts.
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