More Romney anti-LGBT revelations: rejected birth certificates reflecting gay parentsBreaking News, Top Highlights Thursday, October 25th, 2012
If there are any lingering doubts in the minds of LGBT voters as to where Mitt Romney really stands on LGBT issues the following article by Murray Waas, published in The Boston Globe, should help clear that up. In a particularly nasty move, Romney as governor of Massachusetts rejected the state Registry of Vital Records and Statistics request to relabel the box for “father” to “father or second parent,’’ on its birth certificate forms. This is despite the fact that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had ruled gay marriage legal in 2003.
From the article:
But to then-Governor Mitt Romney, who opposed child-rearing by gay couples, the proposal symbolized unacceptable changes in traditional family structures.
He rejected the Registry of Vital Records plan and insisted that his top legal staff individually review the circumstances of every birth to same-sex parents. Only after winning approval from Romney’s lawyers could hospital officials and town clerks across the state be permitted to cross out by hand the word “father’’ on individual birth certificates, and then write in “second parent,’’ in ink.
Divisions between the governor’s office and state bureaucrats over the language on the forms and details about the extraordinary effort by the Republican governor to prevent routine recording of births to gay parents are contained in state records obtained by the Globe this month.
Deliberations about the policies, including dozens of exchanges about the marriages and births of individual families, are recounted in e-mails and legal memos sent between the governor’s office and lawyers at the Department of Public Health, which oversees the Registry of Vital Records.
Romney’s insistence on scrutiny harmed the ‘integrity of the vital record-keeping system,’ one official said.
The practice of requiring high-level legal review continued for the rest of Romney’s term, despite a warning from a Department of Public Health lawyer who said such a system placed the children of same-sex parents at an unfair disadvantage.
Crossouts and handwritten alterations constituted “violations of existing statutes’’ and harmed “the integrity of the vital record-keeping system,’’ the deputy general counsel of the department, Peggy Wiesenberg, warned in a confidential Dec. 13, 2004, memo to Mark Nielsen, Romney’s general counsel.
The changes also would impair law enforcement and security efforts in a post-9/11 world, she said, and children with altered certificates would be likely to “encounter [difficulties] later in life . . . as they try to register for school, or apply for a passport or a driver’s license, or enlist in the military, or register to vote.”
Romney’s interventions mostly resulted in delays awarding birth certificates for women married to same-sex partners who gave birth. Gay men seeking parental rights were required to take a different route, by obtaining a court order. By law, birth certificates must be issued within 10 days of birth, and in some instances, those deadlines were not met.
Most of the birth-certificate reviews by the governor’s office appeared cursory. For example, health department deputy counsel Wiesenberg e-mailed Brian Leske and Nielsen on Dec. 23, 2004, to ask permission to issue a certificate regarding one birth: “Birth at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Facts (married mother, same sex spouse, anonymous donor) are similar to 23 other cases that Mark has reviewed . . . [and] instruct[ed] the hospital to list mother & same sex spouse as the second parent on the child’s birth certificate.”
Leske e-mailed back: “You are authorized to inform the Medical Center that may list the same sex spouse as a second parent on the birth certificate.”
In one instance, in which a couple asked that the handwritten alteration for the second parent say “wife” instead of second parent, the request was denied. In another, Leske refused to allow a birth certificate to be issued listing a same-sex couple as the parents because they were not married.
The Romney campaign declined to comment.
In 2005, the state’s association of town clerks garnered some attention when it complained publicly about the absence of updated forms, calling handwritten changes inappropriate.
At that time, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said that the Registry of Vital Records had not changed the birth certificate form because such a change required an act of the state Legislature.
That assertion was contradicted by Wiesenberg, the Department of Public Health lawyer, who told Romney’s lawyers the previous year that authority to make the changes rested with the Department of Public Health.
The paper trail suggests other factors were at work beyond a lack of legislative action, and Romney’s public statements left no doubt that he was opposed to marriage and parenting by same-sex couples.
After presenting their proposal for revised forms to Romney’s chief of staff Beth Myers in May 2004, Department of Public Health officials were told by a Romney staff lawyer via e-mail that “there appear to be many complicated issues that should be discussed with many different communities before the changes are made.’’
The next month, Romney delivered remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington in which he decried the state Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling and its effect on child-rearing. He outlined his misgivings about the request from the Registry of Vital Records.
“The children of America have the right to have a father and a mother,’’ Romney said in his prepared remarks. “What should be the ideal for raising a child? Not a village, not ‘parent A’ and ‘parent B,’ but a mother and a father.’’
Romney also warned about the societal impact of gay parents raising children. “Scientific studies of children raised by same-sex couples are almost nonexistent,’’ he said. “It may affect the development of children and thereby future society as a whole.’’
Romney expressed similar beliefs during a speech in 2005 to socially conservative voters in South Carolina, as he was beginning to be viewed as a serious candidate for president.
“Some gays are actually having children born to them,’’ he declared. “It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and father.’’
Changes to Massachusetts birth certificates formally acknowledging children to same-sex marriages did not come into effect until after Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, assumed office.
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