Tom Ridge, who has endorsed Mitt Romney for president, has called on Republicans to drop their opposition to gay rights.

Ridge, the first leader of the Department of Homeland Security, said Republicans can come off as judgmental.

“I think, as a party, we sometimes come across as very judgmental and very self-righteous, and that doesn't play well to a lot of people,” Ridge told The Wall Street Journal. “Not just on political grounds, but in terms of the culture. We accept diversity in may different ways, and we need to be more clear about that and careful to express that.”

The 66-year-old Ridge, now a consultant, in particular pointed to gay rights, saying, “Younger Americans on both sides of the aisle are saying, 'Live and let live.'”

While he did not endorse gay marriage, Ridge said the issue should be left up to the states.

Marriage equality is proving to be a thorny issue for Romney, who is being urged by conservatives to adopt a more conservative stance on social issues such as gay marriage, while accepting large donations from prominent Republicans who also support marriage rights for gay couples.