Hard sell

By ADAM REILLY  |  March 10, 2006

In the mold of Weld?
Earlier this week, when the Phoenix asked Healey if she’d been working to shore up her moderate credentials, the LG answered with some well-worn shorthand. “I’ve always been fiscally conservative and socially moderate,” she said. “I like to think that I fall into the same category as Bill Weld. He was a mentor to me, one of the first people who endorsed my candidacy when I first ran for state representative back in 1998. I certainly would be pleased to be compared to him.”

Ah, yes. Bill Weld. A Republican governor who backslapped with old-school Democrats, who wore a black ribbon when Jerry Garcia died, who was feted on the cover of the Advocate — the gay-and-lesbian magazine — as a “Hetero Hero” back in 1993.

But Healey might want to rethink the Weld references, because he’s becoming as much of an ideological chameleon as Romney. Just two years ago, Weld told the Advocate that “... public opinion may become less antagonistic toward same-sex marriage as people see more same-sex couples raising children.” Then Weld decided he wanted to be governor of New York — and presto! Now he’s promised that, if elected, he’ll veto any legislation legalizing same-sex marriage (see “Just Like Mitt,” March 3).

At this point, reproductive-rights advocates seem unconcerned that Healey might follow in Romney’s footsteps and eventually flip-flop on abortion. “We’re pleased about” Healey’s recent statements supporting abortion rights, says NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts executive director Melissa Kogut. Kogut also notes that Healey has served on the board of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which is committed to backing pro-choice candidates. “The lieutenant governor has a longstanding public position that’s pro-choice,” she concludes. “The governor is different. He had a long history of making public statements that were anti-choice, and he cleaned up his act to run for governor.”

What about gay marriage? After all, Healey’s recently reiterated opposition puts her to the right of every other declared candidate for governor. Patrick backs full civil-marriage rights; Reilly was considered a gay-marriage opponent, but has said it’s “time to move on”; and while independent candidate Christy Mihos says the issue deserves a public vote, he also calls himself a gay-marriage supporter.

Consequently, you might think Healey would be persona non grata among gays and lesbians. But Arline Isaacson, co-director of the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Political Caucus, is surprisingly charitable in her assessment of the LG. “The more independent she becomes from Romney, the better she looks to many moderates who care about issues of social justice,” Isaacson says. “We’ve always sensed that she is far more comfortable with gay people and our issues than Romney ever was.”

“One [gay man] I can’t name said, ‘Arline, every time I dealt with the governor, I felt like he was looking at me like I had a dress on,’” Isaacson adds. Healey, in contrast, is “much more normal, much more comfortable, much more laid-back.”

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