Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told The Des Moines Register on Friday that religious groups should have the right to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

Santorum, a social conservative known mostly for this opposition to gay rights, continues to campaign heavily in early caucus state Iowa, where GOP voters prefer conservative candidates.

While results from next week's Ames Iowa Straw Poll might give the campaign a much needed lift, it continues to slip nationwide.

According to a Harris Interactive poll released on Friday, Santorum ranks last in a GOP poll of 12 announced candidates, including former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (2%) and openly gay Fred Karger (2%).

“I'm the only person in this race by measuring the Gallup poll from March to July, everybody else who's even in the race or a prospective in the race their name recognition increase except me,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. “And so you sort of wonder why is the national media not talking about me when they're talking about people like Jon Huntsman who are way below me in the national polls yet he gets press every single day.”

“Nobody seems to want to pay any attention to me,” he added.

For the record, Huntsman supports civil unions for gay couples, believes states have the right to decide whether to legalize gay marriage, and does not support a federal amendment banning such marriages.

Santorum had this to say on gay marriage: “Religious liberty is now trumped because we have now created a 'super' right. … Now the courts have created a 'super' right that's above a right that's actually in the Constitution, and that's of sexual liberty. And I think that's a wrong, that's a destructive element.”