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Flip-flopping on marriage: for a long time former Massachusetts governor William Weld was revered as one of a very few GOP allies in the fight for gay rights. Has he tossed that out for political gain?

During his tenure as Massachusetts governor in the 1990s, William Weld shocked many of his fellow Republicans by pushing through gay rights laws and publicly advocating for same-sex marriage, which was eventually legalized in the Bay State under the direction of a supreme judicial court justice whom he appointed. Even after his last term in office Weld actively campaigned against a move by Massachusetts legislators to ban same-sex marriages and criticized members of his party for being antigay.

Now the resident of New York is shocking people once again, only this time it's the very people who once lauded him as a "hetero hero." Weld, who announced his candidacy for New York governor in August, has said that he does not support the legalization of same-sex marriage outside of Massachusetts, going against his long-held image as an important ally to gays and angering many gay rights activists.

Some have argued that Weld changed his position in order to be more competitive in New York's Republican gubernatorial primary, but Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, calls that strategy "just plain dumb." "If politicians have learned anything from the 2004 presidential race, it's that you cannot talk out of both sides of your mouth about marriage," he says, making reference to Democrat John Kerry's purported reputation as a flip-flopper. "You can't say you are for it in Massachusetts but not in New York. This is a very sad way for Weld to start off his campaign, because he was such a loyal and consistent ally. He will learn what a mistake this was."

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called Weld's comments "extremely troubling." And Alan Van Capelle, executive director of New York gay political group Empire State Pride Agenda, says of Weld's position, "[It's] a complete and disappointing reversal."

To make matters worse Weld failed to show up and speak at an August 21 fund-raiser for the group Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, a commitment he had made over a year earlier. Weld's wife, Leslie Marshall, who did attend, told The New York Times that Weld became "suddenly very busy" after announcing his gubernatorial intentions. (Weld had not responded to numerous requests for comment from The Advocate as of press time.)

While expressing disappointment at the apparent flip-flop, the gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans had a more measured reaction. "Log Cabin will continue our dialogue with Governor Weld regarding the need for civil marriage equality across the country," says Log Cabin president Patrick Guerriero.

Kuhr is editor at large of the Boston-based LGBT newspaper In Newsweekly.
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Title Annotation:POLITICS
Author:Kurh, Fred
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 27, 2005
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