The majority of the GOP presidential contenders who spoke about LGBT issues at Thursday night’s debate in Ames, Iowa did not come out in favor of gay rights. There were only two exceptions. One was no surprise: Jon Huntsman, who supported civil unions as governor of Utah, spoke out in favor of them again, adding, “I think this nation can do a better job when it comes to equality.” The other was rather unexpected: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has compared gay marriage to bestiality and supports a state’s right to ban anal sex, said that Iran’s “mullahcracy…tramples on the rights of gays.”
Here’s a look at where the other candidates from last night’s debate stand on gay rights (with a tip of the hat to Think Progress):
Michele Bachmann: The congresswoman from Minnesota has built her career on opposing gay rights in the name of God, and it’s been widely reported now that her husband runs a clinic linked to ex-gay reparative therapy. At the debate, she reiterated her support for a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and said she “would not nominate activist judges who would legislate from the bench.”
Herman Cain: The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO doesn’t support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and has said he would appoint a gay person to his cabinet (provided they’re not also Muslim, presumably). But he thinks homosexuality is a sin and doesn’t support gay marriage either.
Newt Gingrich: After the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state’s gay marriage ban in 2009, the former speaker of the house helped bankroll a successful effort to oust three of the justices from the bench. He supports a federal marriage amendment to beat back “gay and secular fascism.”
Ron Paul: He’s a hero among libertarians but doesn’t endorse the Libertarian Party’s support for equal marriage rights. At the debate, he said that he thinks “marriages should be between a single man and a single woman and that the federal government shouldn’t be involved,” although he supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act under the guise of states’ rights.
Tim Pawlenty: The former Minnesota governor claims that he’s a fan of Lady Gaga, an outspoken gay-rights activist. But as governor, he opposed a same-sex end-of-life rights bill. He also supports a federal marriage amendment.
Mitt Romney: In 1994, during his time as governor of Massachusetts, Romney penned a letter to the state’s Log Cabin Republicans supporting gay rights. “We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” he wrote then. But now, he says that he supports a marriage amendment. “Marriage is a status. It’s not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state,” he said at the debate.
Rick Santorum, take two: Sure, Santorum may support protecting gays from Iranian hardliners. But at the debate he warned that states’ gay marriage laws were examples of the “10th Amendment run amok,” in the process comparing the laws to forced sterlization and accusing Ron Paul of supporting polygamy.
And the no-shows: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who’s expected to announce his presidential bid Saturday, supported a law to ban gay sex in his state. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer supports the Defense of Marriage Act but says it’s okay if a state chooses to legalize gay marriage. Obscure Detroit Rep. Thaddeus McCotter has voted for marriage amendments. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson supports civil unions. And the openly gay (and, save for one yard sign I saw yesterday in Ames, nearly invisible) Fred Karger, not surprisingly, supports gay marriage rights.
Think Progress compiled a two-minute video of the anti-gay rhetoric on display at the debate: