Mitt Romney on gay marriage

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 16, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Factor" follow-up segment tonight, today marks the first anniversary of gay marriage in Massachusetts, a court decision that is still ultra controversial. More than 6,000 gay couples have made it legal in the Commonwealth. And joining us now from Boston is that state's Governor Mitt Romney.

So where does it go from here? Is the -- we always say that the legislature is going to introduce a bill that is going to rescind this judge's order or the court's order. Where is it going to go?

GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, actually, the only way to reverse this court's order is for a constitutional amendment (search). And that has two parts.

One is the legislature acting without my involvement at all has to pass in two consecutive sessions an amendment. And then that goes to the people.

The second part is the people get to make a vote on that amendment. The legislature has already approved an amendment limiting marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman. It also calls for a civil union, but that amendment was passed once. It's now up again this year or the year after to be approved one more time by the legislature. If it's approved one more time, it goes to the people.

I think the people will favor limiting marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman. But what the legislature will do in a legislature which is 85 percent Democratic, that's anybody's guess. But at least they passed this amendment once. I'm hoping they'll do it again.

O'REILLY: How much did it pass by the first time?

ROMNEY: Well, by a pretty narrow margin. And one of the reasons for that is that there were people like myself, as well as a number of other legislators, that didn't like the provision on civil unions.

I would have preferred just to have an amendment that said, "Look, marriage is between a man and woman, and any rights for same-sex couples will be as decided by the legislature from time to time." But that amendment lost.

And the amendment that won provides not only for marriage being between a man and woman, but it says there will also be civil unions. It requires civil unions.

O'REILLY: Right.

ROMNEY: And so there are some conservatives like myself who aren't wild about that, but think it's better than -- than same-sex marriage (search). There are other, of course, more liberals that want to get rid of it because they don't like the limitation on marriage. So kind of the notion at this point, it's a difficult thing to do. But I ultimately think it's going to go to the people. I sure hope so.

O'REILLY: I hope it does. That's the way it should be. And I hope it does.

Now, the Boston Globe (search), which is a big cheerleader for gay marriage, they do a poll, and I can't make heads or tails out of the poll. One of the questions was do you approve or disprove of gay and lesbian couples being allowed to get married? And 50 percent of the residents of the Commonwealth disproved, 37 percent approved.

Then they ask another question: Do you think gay marriage should be outlawed by law? And then should not be outlawed, 37 percent.

So it looks like the folks are still on your side, but I don't know. I mean, who knows?

When somebody says, "Hey, Governor, you're violating my civil rights as a gay. I have the right -- the same rights as a heterosexual should have," what do you say? What's your answer to that?

ROMNEY: Well, this isn't a matter of adult rights. This is a matter of what we as a society want to do in preparing our next generation. And for a long time we've said that we prefer, as a society, a setting where there's a man and woman, a mother and a father to raise a child.

O'REILLY: Why? Why, why? Why do we prefer that, in your opinion?

ROMNEY: Well, because having a male and a female associated with the development of a child is going to help that child determine their own sexuality and help them in their course of life. And so we provide special benefits to a relationship between a man and woman.

O'REILLY: What if they say, "Well, that was the way it used to be with interracial marriage and that was, you know, a biased situation and so is this. And you, Governor Romney, have no right to limit me from what I want to do and deprive my rights." What do you say?

ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that there was absolutely no good reason for banning marriage between people of different races. But there is a good reason to say that a child deserves to have a mother and a father. It's the way it's been for how many years? Since the beginning of time.

It's as commonsensical as one can imagine, because you have a child that's able to determine from each parent the attributes of that gender, and by virtue of doing so is able to determine their own sexuality and the relationship with members of the opposite sex.

O'REILLY: OK, so your argument is based on what's good for the children. Interesting.

Last question: you're a conservative governor in perhaps the most liberal state of the union. I've always loved Massachusetts (search). I lived there for many years. And it's just because the folks don't want the loons to get out of control on either side, right?

ROMNEY: Well, I think the reason that they elected a Republican governor, even a conservative one like me in a state like this, is that they don't want to have their money being unwisely spent. And while they may not agree with Republicans generally, they know that we care about their money.

O'REILLY: Fiscally, yes.

ROMNEY: And we're going to hold tax rates down. We're fiscally conservative.

O'REILLY: All right. Governor, thanks for taking the time. We appreciate it.

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