The two men made the comments during an ABC News/Yahoo GOP debate Saturday (Jan. 7) in New Hampshire leading up to the state's first-in-the-nation primary. Gingrich, Romney, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman all were asked their opinions either on gay "marriage" or civil unions, with most of the questions centered on what they would say to the gay person who wants to be "married."
After several minutes of watching the back-and-forth between the ABC News moderators and the candidates, Gingrich pushed back.
"Since we've spent this much time on these issues, I just want to raise a point about the news media bias," Gingrich responded. "You don't hear the opposite question asked: Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples? Which is exactly what the state has done. Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?
"The bigotry question goes both ways," Gingrich said. "And there's a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. And none of it gets covered by the news media."
Romney was governor when the state's highest court legalized gay "marriage." In 2006, Boston Catholic Charities decided to shut down its widely praised adoption and foster care work rather than be forced to follow a state law requiring that children be placed in the homes of homosexual couples. Romney urged the Democratic state legislature to pass a law exempting Catholic Charities and religious organizations but legislators did not act.
Catholic Charities in D.C. also closed its adoption services after gay "marriage" was legalized there.
"We have to recognize that this decision about what we call marriage has consequence which goes far beyond a loving couple wanting to form a long-term relationship," Romney said during the debate, agreeing with Gingrich. "... Calling a marriage creates a whole host of problems for families, for the law, for the practice of religion, for education. Let me say this, 3,000 years of human history shouldn't be discarded so quickly."
Romney further said that the government defines marriage in the traditional sense and provides benefits to such relationships because it believes a household with a father and mother is the "ideal setting" for children to be raised.
The issue of gay "marriage" came up again the next morning during a second GOP debate on NBC's "Meet the Press." Santorum was asked if he would be a "voice for speaking out for gay rights."
"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," he said. "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."
Santorum added, "But just because you don't agree with someone's desire to change the law doesn't mean you don't like them or you hate them or you want to discriminate against them, but you're trying to ... promote things that you think are best for society."
Rick Perry and Ron Paul were not asked about the issue. Gingrich, Romney, Santorum and Perry all have spoken in favor of a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Paul opposes such an amendment and says the government should get out of marriage licensing altogether.
Among other social issues discussed during the two debates:
-- Romney restated his desire to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
-- Huntsman said he supports same-sex civil unions, which have been used in some states -- such as Connecticut and New Hampshire -- as a stepping stone to gay "marriage." Civil unions grant all the legal benefits of marriage.
-- Romney implied that he favors same-sex domestic partnerships, although he didn't elaborate on whether he meant on the state or federal level, or what the partnerships would cover. In some states, domestic partnerships grant gay couples such benefits as hospital visitation rights. In most states, they're not the equivalent of civil unions.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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