Years before he became a state senator -- and many years before he became a fast-rising Republican candidate for United States Senate -- Scott Brown found himself embroiled in a minor controversy when he said that the idea of two women having a child is "just not normal."
The then-state representative, disparaging the decision by state Senator Cheryl Jacques to have a baby with her domestic partner, referred to her "alleged family responsibilities" and said the situation was "unusual for two women... in terms of what's normal in today's society."
In socially progressive Massachusetts, the remark was enough to cause a media uproar at the time -- so much so that Brown would walk back the statement days later.
It wasn't enough to derail his political trajectory, though. Indeed, years later he would actually take over Jacques' senate seat.
It also wasn't enough to convince Brown that it was better to simply not touch lightening rod political issues. In the course of his career, Brown has earned more than a few headlines for playing a conservative role in the ongoing cultural wars. Brown was one of only three members of the heavily Democratic State Senate to vote against a repeal of a state law that barred out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts. Later, he would vote for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage - for which he earned the endorsement of the group The Coalition for Marriage -- and he opposed the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
These stances set him apart even from his fellow state Republicans. In heavily Democratic Massachusetts they earned him derision and awkward headlines. In February 2007, Brown visited his daughter's high school for a discussion on his stance on gay marriage. At some point during the event, however, he lashed out against the crowd for its poor reception of his position. Brown read aloud the names of certain students and the comments they had posted about him on a Facebook page dedicated to a pro-gay rights history teacher at the school -- profanities and all.
"If the kids can write it, the kids can hear it," he explained later.
Brown's stance on marriage has been a minor issue (if that) during the course of a campaign that now leaves him poised to potentially win Ted Kennedy's long-held Senate seat. On these socio-political topics and others, Brown would bring a decidedly different Massachusetts voice and vote to the Senate.
The state senator has also voted against stem cell research funding, according to the Blue Mass Group, despite hailing from a state with massive biotech industry potential. He opposed allowing illegal aliens to live in state-subsidized housing and favored strict English-immersion requirements. The major cause of his early years in the state senate was a legislation strengthening sex offender laws.
The two-time incumbent took a firm stance on opposing the request of a convicted murderer for a sex-change operation. He also drew headlines for opposing a bill that allowed aspiring teachers who flunked the state certification test but were deemed potentially valuable from getting a waiver for their license. "If we're going to grant a special path for teachers," he said, "let's allow the same for funeral directors who prepare our loved ones (for burial).''
But Brown spent time on less divisive issues too, including his support of good-government policies. Brown supported the state's Clean Elections Act despite expressing reservations about its implications. In 2003, he sent a letter to a local radio talk show host disclosing the names of his political donors and the amount of their donations.
But on many social issues he staked out strongly conservative positions. His stance on abortion may provide the most compelling evidence. Once a stated supported of Roe v. Wade, he adopted a pro-life record later in his career.
"We're behind him," said John Rowe, chairman of Citizens for Life's federal political action committee. "The pro-life vote is very important at this point. It can make a big difference... We always welcome people coming over to our side."