Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich criticized gay marriage during Saturday night's Republican debate in New Hampshire.

The issue came up when a Yahoo! News reader asked, “Given that you oppose gay marriage, what do you want gay people to do who want to form loving, committed, long-term relationships? What is your solution?” Romney and Gingrich answered that while they support limited protections for gay and lesbian couples, both believe marriage should remain a heterosexual union.

Gingrich offered a two-part answer, which included the suggestion that gay couples are merely friends and that the media was biased on the issue.

“I think what I would say is do we want to make it possible to have those things that are most intimately human between friends occur … For example, you run a hospital. If there are visitation hours, should you be allowed to stay there. There ought to be ways to designate that. You want to have someone in your will, there ought to be ways to designate that.”

“But there's a huge jump from being understanding and considerate and concerned, which we should be, to saying we're therefore going to institute the sacrament of marriage as though it has no basis. The sacrament of marriage was based on man and woman, has been for 3,000 years, is at the core of our civilization, and is something worth protecting and upholding.”

Gingrich drew applause from the audience when he scolded the media.

“You don't hear the opposite question asked. Should the Catholic church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples? Which is exactly what the state has done. Should the Catholic church be driven out from providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration.”

“The bigotry question goes both ways and there's 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.”

Romney said allowing gay couples to marry could cause problems in education and religion.

“To say that marriage is something other than the relationship between … a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake,” Romney said.

New Hampshire holds its presidential primary on Tuesday.