Scott: Tonight is the first debate between the presidential candidates Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Domestic issues – things like abortion, same-sex marriage, and gun ownership – are on the agenda. And as our team OneVote explains, social issues are often influenced by a person’s beliefs.
John DiGiacobbe: I definitely base a lot of my social values on my Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. They affect every aspect of my life, whether it be political or social – especially the abortion issue. It’s the main one that I really base off of my Christian values.
Karolyn Erlertsen: I have a radio show on the Catholic station in Baton Rouge and we discuss current events and how they relate to youth. I have gone to Catholic school my entire life and I was raised Methodist, and I’ve been in church every Sunday since I was little. I keep my religious views and my political views pretty separate.
Scott: One of the biggest differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama is their stance on abortion.
In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade that state’s could not outlaw abortions because it violated a woman’s right to privacy.
Mitt Romney believes the Supreme Court should overturn Roe vs. Wade and that abortion is taking a life. Romney is against legalized abortion but he does make exceptions for cases like rape or when the mother’s life is at risk.
Mitt Romney: I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.
Scott: Romney also says he supports laws that ban federal funding for abortions.
Kailyn: Here are my two little Romney stickers. They’re subtle but they give people the message.
I think that government’s responsibility is to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I think that if we don’t protect life, we fail as a government. Life begins at conception.
Nyatan: Women’s rights are a big thing for me because, obviously, I’m a woman. I am trying to do my best to campaign for the Obama campaign and I think women should have complete control over their bodies and decisions that impact their bodies.
Scott: President Obama supports the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision. He says it protects women’s freedom.
President Obama: I want women to control their own health choices just like I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons.
Scott: The president says women should have the right to an abortion, but that states should be able to place some restrictions on abortions late in a woman’s pregnancy. But like Romney, he also says he supports laws that ban federal funding for abortions.
Lets talk about same-sex marriage. Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to marry. Thirty-eight states have all-out banned same-sex marriage. What do the candidates say?
Mitt Romney: My position is the same on gay marriage as it’s been for, well, from the beginning, and that is that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. That’s the posture I had as governor and I have that today.
Scott: Mitt Romney is against legalizing same-sex marriage on the federal level. He says it should be up to the states to decide.
John DiGiacobbe: I also do not believe that the federal government should define what a marriage is. I think that the people in each state should decide whether or not they want to approve or disapprove of gay marriage.
Scott: Romney also supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman. The bi-partisan law was passed by congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996. The Obama administration is against the Defense of Marriage Act and calls it unconstitutional.
In May, the president made waves when he announced he personally supports same-sex marriage. It’s the first time a sitting president has done that.
President Obama: It is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.
Karolyn: I think gay marriage should be legalized in the United States. We refer to seventy-nine day romances between celebrities as marriage. I think that’s a lot more offensive than referring to two people of the same sex who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together as marriage.
Scott: Another big social issue in this election is gun ownership, especially after a string of mass shootings over the summer. So where do the candidates stand when it comes to the second amendment, the right to bear arms?
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney supported a state ban on assault weapons, high-powered guns like AK-47s. A similar federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. And Romney now says if elected president, he won’t sign any new gun control laws.
As president, Barack Obama has signed several new laws that expand gun rights, for example, allowing guns in national parks. But the president does support the ban on assault weapons and supports requiring background checks for people buying guns at gun shows.