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Santorum says he would love gay son equally

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 8, 2012 14:14 EDT
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Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Image via AFP.
 
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CONCORD, New Hampshire — US Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a Christian conservative who fiercely opposes same-sex marriage, said Sunday he would love his son just as much if he were gay.

Santorum, who has been strongly criticized for anti-gay remarks in the past, came under pressure to flesh out his controversial views on homosexuality in the latest presidential debate in socially liberal New Hampshire.

“What if you had a son who came to you and said he was gay?” the NBC moderator asked Santorum, who finished a narrow second to frontrunner Mitt Romney in last week’s first nominating battle in Iowa.

“I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it,” the former Pennsylvania senator replied. “And I would try to do everything I can to be as good a father to him as possible.”

Santorum’s staunch pro-life position and opposition to gay marriage have won admirers among conservative Americans, mistrustful of Romney’s perceived “flip-flopping” on such issues and suspicious of his Mormon faith.

Santorum, a father of seven, stoked the issue on Friday when he suggested to pupils at a private school, some of whom reportedly had homosexual parents, that they would be better off with a father in prison than having a gay dad.

The candidate, who lost to Romney by only eight votes in Iowa, is a notorious figure in the gay rights community for remarks in a 2003 interview in which he compared homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality.

Asked in Sunday’s debate if he would fight for greater rights if elected, Santorum replied: “I would be a voice in speaking out for making sure that every person in America, gay or straight, is treated with respect and dignity and has equality of opportunity.

“That does not mean that I would agree with certain things that the gay community would like to do to change laws, with respect to marriage or respect to adoption, and things like that.”

Romney was also pressed on the issue and insisted that, despite his continued opposition to gay marriage, he had honored a pledge made when he was running for a senate seat in Massachusetts to speak up for gay rights.

“I appointed people to the bench regardless of their sexual orientation, made it very clear that, in my view, we should not discriminate in hiring policies and legal policies,” he said.

“From the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community: I do not favor same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage, and that has been my view.”

In the state-by-state Republican battle, polls suggest Romney should win New Hampshire and next-to-vote South Carolina, making him odds-on favorite to emerge as the nominee to take on President Barack Obama in November.

Gay marriage is not legal under federal law in the United States as the Defense of Marriage Act only recognizes marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

The White House says Obama favors legislation that would repeal the law, which also allows states to refuse to recognize a legally sanctioned gay marriage from another state.

New York, last July, became the sixth US state to allow gay couples to legally marry.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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