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GOP debate: Romney, Santorum grilled on gay rights

January 08, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Rick Santorum, left, and Mitt Romney both denounced discrimination based on sexual orientation while reaffirming their opposition to same-sex marriage.
Rick Santorum, left, and Mitt Romney both denounced discrimination based… (Charles Krupa / Associated…)

Mitt Romney was reminded Sunday morning on the NBC/Facebook debate stage of a pledge he made in 1984, that he would “be a voice in the Republican Party to foster anti-discimination efforts” in the gay community.

Asked how he had fulfilled that pledge, Romney said that as governor of Massachusets, he had a gay cabinet member and appointed judges regardless of their sexual orientation.

“From the very beginning, in 1994, I said to the gay community, 'I do not favor same sex marriage,'” Romney said. “I oppose same sex marriage. But if people are looking for someone who will discriminate against gays or will in any way try and suggest that people that have different sexual orientations don't have full rights in this country, they won't find that in me.”

That didn't satisfy WHDH-TV Boston's Andy Hiller, a political reporter who had raised the question at the debate.

“When's the last time that you stood up and spoke out for increasing gay rights?” Hiller asked.

Romney was done with the topic. “Right now,” he said.

Hiller moved on to Rick Santorum, who has become particularly well known for his controversial views on  homosexuality.

“Surprised it's come to me,” Santorum joked.

Following Romney's lead, Santorum said he opposes discriminating against people, but reiterated his opposition to gay marriage and allowing gay people to adopt children.

What, Hilller asked, would Santorum do if he had a son who told him he was gay?

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

kim.geiger@latimes.com


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