Presidential candidates Michele
Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain said Monday that the rights of
religious groups should trump the rights of gay and lesbian couples.
The three GOP candidates answered
questions on Labor Day at the Palmetto Freedom Forum sponsored by the
American Principles Project. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich also participated in the forum. Texas Governor
Rick Perry canceled on the event at the last minute to return to
Texas to deal with out-of-control wildfires which have destroyed
nearly 500 homes.
Asking the questions were Iowa
Representative Steve King, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and
Robert P. George, founder of the American Principles Project and
chairman emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM),
the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage.
George asked the candidates whether the
federal government should step in to protect the rights of religious
groups in states such as Illinois and Massachusetts where lawmakers
have not exempted them from accommodating prospective foster and
adoptive gay couples in a civil union or marriage.
Catholic Charities to appeal gay adoption ruling.)
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the
first candidate to speak, answered: “I believe in equal protection
under the law. And this is clearly a situation where we have seen a
disadvantage to children who are about to be placed either in foster
care or in adoptive care. And again, I believe that is one more
example why the rulings of activist judges acting outside the
original intent of the Constitution are so very dangerous to the
foundation of the country.”
George followed up with: “If a state
Legislature refuses to make funding available on equal terms to those
providers who as a matter of conscience will not place children in
same-sex homes, should federal legislation come in to protect the
freedom of conscience of those religious providers. Even if the
discrimination comes not from the courts but from the Legislature.”
“Well, yes I do, because I believe
that is a right that is guaranteed to every American under our
Constitution and bill of rights,” Bachmann answered.
The second candidate, former
Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, agreed: “No, because I believe
in the First Amendment. So, the federal government should not be
subsidizing any situation where it's discriminatory against any
legitimate religion in this country.”
Gingrich and Paul were not asked the
question, but Gingrich reiterated his call for a federal amendment
banning gay marriage.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of
Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, said it was
a “mistake” not to exempt religious groups.
“I believe in religious tolerance and
religious liberty. And that means to me that we are not going to
force people of faith to violate their faith in order to carry out
“In my state for instance about half
of the adoptions were being placed by Catholic Charities. They had
to get out of adoptions, because they would not under their faith
place children in the homes of same-sex couples. That's a mistake,”