Anyone who has paid close attention to the political career of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney knows the Massachusetts Republican used to be a supporter of gay rights.

To the rest of us-and that includes many Republican Americans currently considering him for the country’s highest office-Romney’s past support of the gay and lesbian community is a bit of a mystery.

The mysterious crust covering Romney’s past is slowly but surely being chipped away, however, as evidenced by the recent unveiling of a bright pink flyer Romney supposedly handed out at a 2002 gay pride parade while running for the state’s gubernatorial seat.

The flyer, posted at RomneyFacts.com, reads:

“Mitt and Kerry (Healey, at the time running for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor) wish you a great Pride weekend! All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference.”

This isn’t the first time Romney’s past support of the GLBT community has returned to haunt his current electoral efforts.

In late 2006, Bay Windows, a Boston-based gay and lesbian newspaper, published excerpts from an August 1994 interview with Romney during his campaign against Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

In the interview, Romney reportedly said it should be up to states to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage and he criticised Republican “extremists” who imposed their positions on the party.

“People of integrity don’t force their beliefs on others, they make sure that others can live by different beliefs they may have,” Romney told the newspaper at the time.

That’s a far cry from the presidential candidate’s more recent comments on the subject. In fact, in a 60-second radio ad set to begin airing tomorrow, the former Massachusetts governor touts the strength of his opposition to gay marriage by saying, “Not all Republican candidates agree, but defending marriage is the right thing to do.”

Bryan Ochalla © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.