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Santorum faces voters on gay marriage

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke today in Keene, H.H., at an event entitled “Faith, Family and Freedom.”

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Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spoke today in Keene, H.H., at an event entitled “Faith, Family and Freedom.”

DUBLIN, N.H. – Rick Santorum is getting asked so many times about his staunch opposition to gay marriage that voters are starting to apologize for asking about it.

“I’m sure you are sick of this question,” one voter prefaced her question here this afternoon. She then proceeded to ask him again to explain.

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But Santorum’s rise in the polls – and the fresh look that voters are willing to give him – is increasingly forcing a state used to focusing on fiscal issues to now confront social ones. This afternoon, during an hour-long visit to a school in this quaint town, the former Pennsylvania senator was asked about gay marriage three times and abortion once.

Santorum grew impassioned while discussing his opposition to gay marriage, saying that it was harmful to families because it could mean that children grow up without both a mother and a father.

“You’re robbing children of something they need, they deserve, they have a right to!” Santorum said after the first question. “They have a right to know and be loved by their dad and their mom. And that’s what marriage is about. It’s not about two people loving each other. There’s lots of people who love each other that we don’t give a privilege to and call it marriage.”

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“Not that those relationships aren’t important -- of course they’re important,” he added. “We honor them and we respect them, but we don’t give them this unique privilege.”

He also suggested that those who disagree aren’t being honest with themselves.

“You may convince yourself that it’s not -- you may rationalize that that isn’t true,” he said. “But in your own life and in your own heart you know it’s true.”

Santorum also poked at Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who endorsed Romney this week and criticized Santorum for his support for congressional earmarks.

“John McCain very rarely supported entitlement reform,” Santorum said. “He came from Arizona, an older state, ran to the hills when it came to anything having to do with senior benefits. Well, that’s what you’ve got to talk about when it comes to entitlement reforms.”

Just after that, a man rose and said, “What makes straight men more worthy of the privilege of marriage than gay men?”

“I think I answered that question,” Santorum said. “I’m not too sure I can really add anything more to it. Sorry.”

Matt Viser can be reached at maviser@globe.com.
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