Giuliani flips: Opposes Civil UnionsNY Sun
by Ryan Sager
April 27, 2007
In a startling departure from his previously stated position on civil unions, Mayor Giuliani came out to The New York Sun yesterday evening in opposition to the civil union law just passed by the New Hampshire state Senate.
"Mayor Giuliani believes marriage is between one man and one woman. Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly," the Giuliani campaign said in a written response to a question from the Sun. "In this specific case the law states same sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same sex unions from outside states. This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it."
The Democratic governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch, has said publicly that he will sign the civil union law.
On a February 2004 edition of Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor," Mr. Giuliani told Bill O'Reilly, when asked if he supported gay marriage, "I'm in favor of … civil unions."
He also said, "Marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman."
Asked by Mr. O'Reilly in the interview how he would respond to gay Americans who said being denied access to the institution of marriage violated their rights, Mr. Giuliani said: "That's why you have civil partnerships. So now you have a civil partnership, domestic partnership, civil union, whatever you want to call it, and that takes care of the imbalance, the discrimination, which we shouldn't have."
In 1998, as mayor of New York City, Mr. Giuliani signed into law a domestic partnership bill that a gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, hailed as setting "a new national benchmark for domestic partner recognition."
Despite Mr. Giuliani's long history of supporting gay rights — or rather, because of it — yesterday's statement is likely to lead many observers to question whether the former mayor is concerned that his socially liberal record and positions aren't flying in the Republican primary. While he still holds a commanding lead in the national polls, he has taken a hit over the last month or so after reiterating his support for the public funding of abortion.
"Why would you want to take a position where you are splitting hairs, when you have been so consistently on the record as for civil unions?" a Republican pollster reached for comment yesterday evening by the Sun, Tony Fabrizio, asked. "You can't turn around at the eleventh hour and say this comes a little too close to marriage and then not support it."
New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation primary, is the second state — after Connecticut — to adopt civil unions strictly through its Legislature, without any order from its courts.
The New Hampshire law is titled, "An act permitting same gender couples to enter civil unions and have the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as married couples." It specifies that New Hampshire will recognize civil unions from other states.
The Connecticut law is structured similarly, equating civil unions to marriages and recognizing civil unions from other states. The Vermont and New Jersey civil union laws are also similar.
Mr. Giuliani's position on the New Hampshire law puts him in the company of the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, the only other major presidential candidate from either party who opposes the New Hampshire law.
"Governor Romney opposes the New Hampshire bill," Mr. Romney's campaign said yesterday. "He is a champion of traditional marriage. As governor of Massachusetts, he has a clear record opposing same sex marriage and civil unions."
Senator McCain of Arizona said the issue was one of states' rights and took no position on the New Hampshire law specifically. "While, as a federalist, John McCain recognizes the right of the state of New Hampshire to regulate the institution of marriage and to pass civil union laws, he strongly believes in the current law that declares that no other state should be legally bound to recognize same sex marriages or unions that might be legal in other places," Mr. McCain's campaign said in a statement.
Senator Clinton, Senator Obama of Illinois, and a former senator from North Carolina, John Edwards, all support the New Hampshire law but oppose gay marriage.