- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK — Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney last night defended traditional marriage, highlighting an issue that has remained largely unmentioned during the Republican National Convention.

“We step forward by expressing tolerance and respect for all God’s children, regardless of their difference and choices,” Mr. Romney said. “At the same time, because every child deserves a mother and a father, we step forward by recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Mr. Romney was propelled into the national spotlight after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled last year that the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In May, the state began doing so, a move Mr. Romney staunchly opposed. The state legislature, with the governor’s backing, has taken the first step to pass a constitutional amendment undoing the court’s ruling.

His comments received a solid but brief ovation, but some delegates thought mentioning same-sex “marriage” was the wrong move.

Nancy Luther, a Massachusetts delegate, said the reference was “not necessary” and that “the majority of voters in Massachusetts say it’s not an issue with them.”

Despite the belief of many conservatives that the marriage issue could be the silver bullet for President Bush, it has not been a prominent part of the message at the convention.

Still, it did arise twice on Tuesday during speeches by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican, and Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Mrs. Dole defended the definition of marriage as something ordained by God: “Marriage between a man and a woman isn’t something Republicans invented, but it is something Republicans will defend.”

Mr. Steele, who has previously said the same-sex “marriage” debate is a distraction from more important issues, took aim at the record of the Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, pointing out that he was one of 13 senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Also last night, Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey praised her governor for being unafraid to take a stand against same-sex “marriage.”

“He stood up for traditional values against an activist court,” Mrs. Healey said.

In June, Mr. Romney told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a constitutional amendment, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, which the Republican platform endorses, is needed because his state’s courts may force same-sex “marriage” on other states.

Already, several states have strengthened their laws to say that they will not recognize other state’s same-sex “marriages,” but such efforts have failed in the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Romney took the stage before the acceptance speech of Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a homosexual daughter.

The vice president last week said marriage should be a state issue, but that he backs Mr. Bush’s policy, in response to the Massachusetts court, to push for a constitutional amendment against same-sex “marriage.”

Further tension erupted yesterday when Illinois Senate candidate Alan Keyes called Mary Cheney a “selfish hedonist.”

In an interview with a radio station that targets homosexuals, Mr. Keyes said, “The essence of … family life remains procreation. If we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it’s possible to have a marriage state that in principle excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism.”

Asked whether this meant that the vice president’s daughter is a “selfish hedonist,” Mr. Keyes said: “That goes by definition. Of course she is.”

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