Mitt Romney on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama's decision to no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

At a campaign stop in conservative South Carolina, Romney accused the president of “paving” the way for gay marriage.

“This is a president who also is attempting to pave the way for same-sex marriage in our nation by refusing through his attorney general to defend the Defense of Marriage Act,” Romney told the crowd. “I will defend that act and I will also defend marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Romney has in recent months lowered his support for government recognition of gay unions, increasingly speaking out in favor of a federal marriage amendment in an effort to fend off claims that he advanced gay marriage as governor of Massachusetts.

(Related: Mitt Romney stunned by Rick Santorum claims that he advanced gay marriage.)