Candidate Attacks on Morality: Is it Right?

by Halie Miller.

All over the nation, people are gearing up for Nov. 6. While the heat is on to win the vote of the undecided, those still unsure keep in mind the candidates’ stances on controversial issues. Of all the topics of current political debate, few are as controversial as gay marriage, and each candidate has a drastically different stance on the issue. President Barack Obama is the first sitting president to announce publically his support of same-sex marriage. Former Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is adamant that the definition of marriage should remain traditional, a union between one man and one woman, and supports a constitutional amendment to define it as such. But the question here isn’t “What are the candidates’ stances on this matter?” or even “What is the stance of the majority of the voting public?” What needs be questioned is this: does one candidate’s platform have the right to criticize another’s morality on the basis of their platform’s values? Or, if the question is to be rephrased, can one candidate claim the other candidate has no values and get away with it simply because their platforms differ?

President Obama during his primetime interview during which he publicly endorsed same-sex marriage. A clip of the interview can be found Here

It’s an election year; to say that candidates won’t viciously criticize their opponents is naïve, yet a line must be drawn somewhere.  President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney have been “bashing” each other for weeks over their differing stances on debated issues, but not over their personal ethics. Recently, however, it was shocking to learn that a commercial ad released by a Pro-Mitt Romney PAC does both, urging America to “vote for someone with values.” The commercial starts simply enough: melancholy music plays and a woman, looking upset, stands at her kitchen counter reading the paper. Her husband, casually asking how she is, sets a cup of coffee next to her. “Fine,” she replies somewhat distraughtly, “I guess.” “What’s going on?” he asks. “Well, Obama is trying to force gay marriage on this country. That’s not the change I voted for. Marriage is between a man and a woman,” she laments. “That’s not the change I voted for either,” says her husband, and when his wife asks what they can do, he replies with surety in the controversial moment of the ad, “We can vote for someone with values.”

Video by the Campaign for American Values

One might wonder what the big deal is, but implying that President Obama lacks values because he supports same-sex marriage and the LBGT community is not only wrong, it’s insulting. Would someone think it was acceptable to attack Romney’s values because he believes marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman? No, and regardless of how he established his values, they are no less legitimate than Obama’s when he says same-sex marriage is okay.

There are Democratic and Republican Christians alike. Barack Obama is a member of the United Church of Christ and Mitt Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; should one religious man accuse  another religious man of not holding values just because they differ from his own? Regardless of what one believes, one needs to recognize that is not right. The issue of gay marriage is much debated. As Christians, we must ask ourselves where we stand. The Bible speaks out against homosexuality in several places, so naturally one would think it is a black-and-white issue, right? Homosexuality is wrong. But the Bible also speaks out against women as pastors, and many churches disregarded that fact in favor of women in their ministries. Is that wrong? Must Christianity hold fast to Biblical text, or must it adapt to change over time? If it must adapt, who determines the ways in which it must? Moreover, who has the right to accuse another of lacking values because they answered these questions in a specific way?

“Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve opposed same-sex marriage, but I’ve also opposed unjust discrimination against anyone, for racial or religious reasons, or for sexual preference. Americans are a tolerant, generous, and kind people. We all oppose bigotry and disparagement. But the debate over same-sex marriage is not a debate over tolerance. It is a debate about the purpose of the institution of marriage and it is a debate about activist judges who make up the law rather than interpret the law.” – Mitt Romney 12/14/06 National Review Online

Thanks to the separation of religion and state, marriage as defined governmentally has no mention of religion or spirituality. While Christians see as it a union between two people and God, governmentally it is simply a union between two consenting adults. Nearly all objections to same-sex marriage are religious, but should religion hold sway in a secular government’s ruling on the issue? Individual churches, after examining their answers to previously mentioned questions, can and have made their own decisions regarding it.

The decision on who can marry should be made in the churches and enforced pastorally, not in courthouses. Secularly, as this writer feels, shouldn’t marriage be allowed for all and, religiously, allowed at the discretion of the church or denomination? Not everyone agrees on this answer, but all should agree that answering “yes” to that question doesn’t diminish a person’s values. Furthermore, Christians come of all opinions regarding same-sex marriage. Regardless of how a person feels, if they act in good faith that they are doing and believing the right thing, they are acting on their values, indeed. If I could give a shout out to the GOP right now, it would go something like this: President Obama doesn’t lack values, former Governor Romney. Kindly don’t imply he does.

Written by Halie Miller.
Written by Halie Miller.

[box type=”info” color=”#000000″ bg=”#999999″]The opinions expressed in The Papyrus online do not necessarily represent those of Greenville College or the Greenville College Publications Board.[/box]


  1. There are a lot of assumptions in this article that the writer should’ve gotten rid of, but that’s OK. It’s just the Papyrus.

    • Hey Craig,
      We at the Papyrus are are attempting to make our news source just as credible as any. We don’t want people to look at us as “just the Papyrus.” If you could be a little more constructive with your criticism, we would greatly appreciate it. What assumptions in this Opinion piece do you think should be removed?
      Thanks for your feedback,

  2. Halie,
    Thanks for publishing your thoughtful article. You may have a bright career ahead of you in writing and I admire you standing up and speaking out. I offer some feedback for your consideration.

    First, you base a large part of your argument on a political ad that was neither created, nor approved by Mitt Romney. It really has no relevance in this discussion. Anyone can make a statement in support of someone else, whether they like it or not. But their comments cannot be shoved in the mouths of the people they support.

    Secondly, the article has a photo with a quote from Mitt Romney that was 6 years old and the context was not explained. If you were purposely trying to write political propaganda, you succeeded. But if you want to be taken seriously by both sides of the argument, you need better facts. In 2006, Barack Obama also did not support gay “marriage”. He changed his stance in May 2012. You included the clip where he announced his “evolution”. Mitt Romney also “evolved” and stated that he supported the civil union of same sex partners in his campaign for president in 2012, albeit late in the game, and that the States should decide what benefits this entails. His issue is with using the term “marriage” and the impact to churches, if laws are passed that jeopardize the freedom to express their beliefs. Obama expressed this same concern in his May 2012 interview. These two guys are not that far apart on the issue, a specific political strategy. Regardless, you really should have found quotes from 2012 as there were plenty. 2006 is a lifetime ago for a politician. Bottomline, get current and relevant quotes and facts.

    Let’s get back to what you were trying to say in the article and go from there. So the question you are exploring is, “…can one candidate claim the other candidate has no values and get away with it simply because their platforms differ?” The answer is twofold. “Yes” if you are trying to write political propaganda where it is a viscous game of “hit and run” and “No” if you are assessing what the right thing to do is. But now I have put myself in a corner. Exactly who decides what is “right” and by what means? Everyone has “values”, but who decides if they are good or bad? Ethics philosophers have written mountains about this.

    You ended your article showing your cards. My guess is that you are an Obama supporter who was offended by an ad you saw on TV and wanted to shout out against it. Good for you! But you did not fairly examine how the Obama supporters applied the same tactics to put words in Romney’s mouth. That’s not fair either. Politics is dirty business and should be reformed. Maybe that is a good topic for a paper. I think your particular article could have been better served if you focused on the same sex marriage topic and why people are staunchly polarized in their beliefs. That is where most of your thoughtful discussion was. Think about it.

    Hang in there, Halie. Writing is a tough gig.

    • Ha ha…auto-correct in MS Word changed my bad typing of “vicious” to “viscous”…maybe either word applies to politics 😉


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