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Romney: I am not
intolerant of gays

Romney: I am not
intolerant of gays

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that his opposition to same-sex marriage should not be interpreted as intolerance of gays, several of whom served in his administration when he was Massachusetts governor.

In a brief interview with the Associated Press, Romney elaborated on comments he made during a campaign event dubbed "Ask Mitt Anything" in which an audience member questioned whether pastors should preach that homosexuality is a sin. Romney said the government shouldn't tell pastors what they can say.

Afterward, Romney said he would not preach the same message.

"I don't think that a person who's running for a secular position as I am should talk about or engage in discussions of what they in their personal faith or their personal beliefs is immoral or not immoral," the former governor said in the AP interview.

Romney's record on gay rights has drawn scrutiny and criticism that he changes with the political winds. In a 1994 bid for the U.S. Senate against Edward Kennedy, Romney argued that he would be a better champion of gay rights than the Democrat. In 2003, after the Massachusetts supreme judicial court ruled that same-sex couples could wed in the state, Romney pushed for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, after talking to about 400 people at a downtown library, he said that doesn't mean he is intolerant.

"What you look for in a leader is someone who will welcome and treat with respect people who made different choices and have different beliefs in their lives and have differences. I have nothing but respect and feelings of tolerance for people with differences from myself and feel that way with regards to those who are gay," he said.

He noted that one of his cabinet members was gay and that he appointed gays to positions of responsibility in his administration.

"I oppose discrimination against gay people," Romney said. "I am not antigay. I know there are some Republicans, or some people in the country, who are looking for someone who is antigay, and that's not me."

He said he is opposed to marriage equality for same-sex couples because it's not in the best interest of children. (Brendan Farrington, AP)

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