During Sunday’s GOP Primary debate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum had a nice little moment when he said that if his son were gay, “I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it. And I would try to do everything I can to be as good of a father to him as possible.”
As I wrote Sunday, the nature of the question allowed Santorum to avoid the legal implications of his views on homosexuality while putting forth a load of schmaltz about “loving” gay people. Santorum might “love” his gay son, but he’d also want him banned from serving openly in the military, getting married, or adopting children. As Reason‘s Jacob Sullum notes today, in the infamous 2004 “man on dog” interview Santorum also indicated he’d favor criminalizing sexual activity he disapproves of:
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does…You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family…The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
So Santorum also thinks that his hypothetical gay son, whom he’d love so dearly, should also face legal consequences if he ever consummates a relationship with someone he’s actually attracted to. He’d want him to live a life of chaste loneliness, ostracized from whatever opportunities government might decide are inappropriate for gay men to pursue and incapable of building the kind of family he’d want to have. But Santorum would still, you know, “love” him.