Rick Santorum, a leading opponent of gay marriage, said Wednesday that he is also opposed to civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

When CBS Evening News correspondent Dean Reynolds asked Santorum his stance on the issue, the former Pennsylvania Senator responded that gay couples should obtain their rights through the legal system.

“I believe in people's right to be able to contract for whatever benefits that they have,” he said.

“I believe in freedom of contract and people should be able to contract for hospitalization visits, being able to take insurance polices or life insurance,” he said. “And I've encouraged folks if they want to build those relationships to do that.”

The comment comes just days after Santorum agreed that gay couples raising children are families.

Santorum has previously said that he respects people's “decision” to be gay, but that society benefits from defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

“I have friends who are gay,” Santorum told Fox News host Megyn Kelly in August. “It's not personal. It's about policy.”