When a viewer asked what gay couples should do who want to "form, loving committed relationships," answers from Republican candidates during Tuesday's debate devolved into a case for why it's actually Christians who are being persecuted.
"The bigotry question goes both ways," declared Newt Gingrich. "And there is a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concern on the other side, and none of it gets covered by the news media."
Rick Perry decried "this administration's war on religion." The Texas governor ran a now infamous ad in December that has been roundly mocked online complaining how unfair he believes it is that gay people can serve openly in the military while Christians are supposedly forced to hide their beliefs. He pointed to President Obama's decision to abandon a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, which the president considers unconstitutional, as one battle of that war. DOMA bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages that are legal in some states while also ensuring states aren't forced to recognize them when performed elsewhere.
Mitt Romney was governor in Massachusetts when the courts ruled that marriage equality was required by their constitution, and he warned that "this decision about what we call marriage has consequences." Romney lamented that Catholic Charities had opted not to run adoption and foster care in Massachusetts because the law no longer allowed the group receive state money and discriminate against same-sex couples who had married there. Romney said LGBT people should be allowed to raise children, but they should ideally be raised by a male and a female, describing gay couples as inferior to straight ones in the same way that being raised by a single parent would be.
Rick Santorum has the same view but goes further. He said recently on the campaign trial in New Hampshire that same-sex parents were worse for children than being raised by a convict. Santorum said during Saturday's debate that part of his goal in banning same-sex marriage via an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is to prevent LGBT couples from adopting or fostering children, describing that as a side effect that makes the current problem "moot."
Santorum also reiterated his belief that those couples who have already wed (1,800 in New Hampshire alone) should have their marriages dissolved.
Candidates Romney and Gingrich suggested that gay couples should establish a "contractual relationship" instead of a marriage. Jon Huntsman backed civil unions, which he advocated for in his state.
"I think there is such a thing as equality under the law," said Huntsman, who also opposes same-sex marriage. "I don't feel that my relationship is at all threatened by civil unions."