Today, let’s look at a delightfully paradoxical set of Mitt Romney’s talking points.
The “my father was from Mexico” one is true, for what that is worth.
The Romney family has a fascinating history in every nation they’ve touched - Romney is the great-great-grandson of Parley Pratt, who started out as a Baptist, became one of the original “apostles” of Mormonism, and was shot and then stabbed to death by the husband of the woman he took as his twelfth wive. The man stabbed him out of frustration with the fact that kidnapping was not considered a crime if one parent was involved, and Pratt and his new “celestial wife” had taken her children. His death led to some really horrible/entertaining levels of crazy stuff, including a massacre, last words implying religious martyrdom which were written down 38 years after he died, the poisoning of Native American children, and the Mormon church blaming the entire state of Arkansas for his death for some reason. Also, in a 2008 effort by his ancestors to move his body to Salt Lake City, his chosen resting place, there wasn’t even a freaking body there, which is awesome from a storytelling perspective. Where is it? Was he really murdered? Did he just run off with new wives? Who knows?
(Fun bit of trivia: Jon Huntsman is the great-great-great-grandson of Parley Pratt, making him a distant relation to Mitt Romney.)
ANYWAY, moving downward from the marriage between one man and twelve women, we get to Helaman Pratt, one of Parley’s thirty children (and you thought your grocery bills were high!), who had three wives to help produce his fair share of Parley’s 266 grandchildren.
When polygamy is banned in the United States, Helaman makes a run for Mexico rather than divorce two of his wives, and I’m not saying he’s a bad guy for it, because it’s more dickish to abandon two wives and a houseful of kids than it is to flee the country. I’m totally for not abandoning your offspring.
One of these offspring, Anna Amelia Pratt, then meets Gaskell Romney, who Mitt bears a striking resemblance to. They practiced monogamy, like most people who have 265 first cousins crowding around at holidays are likely to want to do, and had five sons, including George Romney, father of Mitt.
In 1912, seventeen years after they got married, Gaskell and Anna moved back to the United States because the Mexican Revolution was getting pretty bloody and, hey, one wife was the right number to have back at home, so why stay in this mess? They ditched their stuff, which had mostly been taken over by one side or the other anyway, and headed back to Salt Lake City, where they raised their little businessmen in as much peace as Mormons ever really get. Mexico even kicked them some “sorry our army took your shit” money, which nobody expected.
Now, George and Mitt are pretty well known and you guys know how Google works, so I think that’s a solid rundown of basic Romney/Pratt history.
This is the important part:
1. Mitt Romney’s father was only from Mexico because his American grandparents were outlaws, and
2. Mitt Romney’s great-grandparents were outlaws because they did not believe in one man/one woman marriage.
This brings me to the second Romney talking point. Romney’s statement that “I agree with 3000 years of recorded history. I believe marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman…,” is in conflict with history to an extreme level. Historically, monogamous marriage between a man and a woman is not even sort of the norm. Even within Romney’s family, marriage between one man and one woman has only been practiced since 1895.
I’m not suggesting that polygamy is something we should adopt, and I’m not saying that leaving the United States for thirtyish years doesn’t count. What I am suggesting is that it is not okay to say “my father was from Mexico” when pandering to Latino voters and then to forget why he was born there as well as the rest of your family history when trying to justify telling other people who they can and cannot marry.
You can tell us that you disagree with marriage equality for personal, moral, or religious reasons. I will not agree with you, but I will believe that you are being honest. You cannot, however, be allowed to get away with lying about the history of marriage itself.