The truth behind it is not so funny. In 2003, Romney dismantled the Massachusetts state Office of Affirmative Action that protected women and minorities during the hiring process for government employment.
Romney signed his executive order, which simultaneously repealed seven orders by previous governors, on June 17 -- Bunker Hill Day, a Suffolk County holiday when state and city offices were closed. Romney's order received little attention at the time, but black and Hispanic leaders say its full impact became clear over the ensuing weeks, in conversations among political activists and elected officials. "In a very quiet and [seemingly] innocuous act, Governor Romney undid through that executive order about 25 years of work," said state Senator Dianne Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat and the only black member of the state Senate. "It's much, much more far-reaching than has been acknowledged by the administration. Symbolically, it could be a death blow to affirmative action. The scary thing is that there's never been a conversation about it."
But [Boston City Councilor Chuck] Turner said Romney gutted the previously existing affirmative action initiatives, and replaced them with a vague set of guidelines that could be flouted by state managers with no consequences. The new guidelines, he said, lack teeth.
Under the old executive orders, if the state's director of affirmative action found an agency manager to be "not in compliance" with hiring and promotion goals, he or she could impose "a hiring freeze on any or all positions of the agency." Romney's order outlines no repercussions for state managers who don't comply with affirmative action rules, Turner said.
"There are no consequences if they don't comply, and no guidelines to follow," Turner said. "So right now, there are no principles in place to use in terms of implementing it."