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Santorum Claims ‘I Haven’t Been Talking A Lot About’ Gay Issues

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"Santorum Claims ‘I Haven’t Been Talking A Lot About’ Gay Issues"

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Surging GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum sought to distance himself from his anti-gay record and rhetoric, just one day after coming in a close second in the Iowa caucuses. During an appearance on Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly Wednesday night, the former Pennsylvania senator said that while he does support annulling all same-sex marriages through a federal constitutional amendment outlawing marriage equality, he is has spent little time discussing social issues and has instead focused on economic matters:

O’REILLY: To rescind — rescind it after a licenses already given. That’s a big deal.

SANTORUM: The federal government would have to pass a constitutional amendment and if the Constitution says that marriage is between a man and woman, then things that are inconsistent with that would not — would be inconsistent with the Constitution so –

O’REILLY: Would you be doing that if you were elected president? Would you be campaigning for a constitutional amendment in that way?

SANTORUM: I would — well, if you pass a constitutional amendment that says marriage –

O’REILLY: So would you — would that be — would that be in the forefront of your — of your administration?

SANTORUM: As you know, Bill, if you’ve been following me out on the trail, I haven’t been talking a lot about this. Although I strongly believe in it. What I’ve been talking about as I did last night on my acceptance speech where didn’t talk about this issue, I talked about the importance of getting this economy going and talked about my grandfather and coming here for freedom. And this is the fundamental issue in this campaign is whether government is going to be big and obtrusive and telling people how to manage their — their lives or — and are they going to support the basic values of faith and family that allow government to be limited and allow our economy to be strong. Those are the things I talked about and did across Iowa. I’ll be talking about those things here in New Hampshire.

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Santorum may have failed to mention LGBT issues in every one of his 350 Iowa town halls, but as ThinkProgress has chronicled, he did spend ample time arguing that gay couples “destabilize” society and comparing same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels and even tried to blame the economic crisis on gay people. As Santorum explained back in August, religious people have a constitutional right to discriminate against gays: “We have a right the Constitution of religious liberty but now the courts have created a super-right that’s above a right that’s actually in the Constitution, and that’s of sexual liberty. And I think that’s a wrong, that’s a destructive element.”

Santorum also slipped in a coded reference to marriage in his Iowa acceptance speech Tuesday night, saying, “Those are the same people that President Obama talked about who cling to their guns and their Bibles. Thank God they do. They share our values about faith and family. They understand that when the family breaks down, the economy struggles.” In de-emphasizing the issue in New Hampshire, Santorum is acknowledging that Granite State voters are less driven by social issues than economic concerns — and that’s particularly true when it comes to the state’s own marriage equality law.

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