FLASHBACK — 1996: Santorum Considered Employment For Gay People A ‘Privilege’

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"FLASHBACK — 1996: Santorum Considered Employment For Gay People A ‘Privilege’"

Yesterday, during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) — who at one point compared homosexuality to bestiality — was asked if he believed the federal government should extend any legal protections to gay and lesbian relationships. Santorum replied that society extends “all sorts of contractual benefits” to all people, but said that gay people were not deserving of certain “exceptional” “privileges” like marriage:

SANTORUM: The question is: what are you going to do to try to impact public policy to recognize particular relationships? My feeling is the relationship that should be recognized in public policy that provides exceptional benefit, unusual unique benefits to society is marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman who are there to join together for the purpose of continuing society, which is having children and raising the children in a home with a mom and a dad.

WALLACE: But you wouldn’t give them any rights as a matter of public policy?

SANTORUM: It depends what you mean by ‘rights.’ Are you talking benefits as far as rights? They have the right to be able to — employment. I don’t know what you mean by rights. What I’m talking about are privileges. Privileges of marriage, privileges of government benefits is a different thing than basic right to live their lives as they well should and can as free Americans.

Watch it:

While Santorum now says that gay people should have the right to “employment,” in 1996, he also considered that a “privilege.” Santorum voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have prohibited public and private employers from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions. The bill fell by the slimmest of margins, 49-50.

“This bill would give entitlement status based on sexual orientation to a degree that would offend most Americans,” Santorum said. “The bill would extend special privileges, not based on a person’s status in our society, but rather based on their lifestyle choice.”

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