Santorum: ‘Suicidal’ for GOP to embrace gay marriage

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Santorum said Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the first sitting GOP senators to back gay marriage, would not herald a wider shift in the party’s stance.

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“The Republican Party’s not going to change on this issue. In my opinion it would be suicidal if it did,” said Santorum, a 2012 GOP presidential contender.

Santorum said he understood that the party needed to publicly debate the issue, but said “it’s another thing to change those fundamental principles.” 

“Just because some of those things happen to be popular right now doesn’t mean the Republican Party should follow suit,” he continued.

The comments from Santorum, a favorite of the GOP’s social conservative base, come as polls show growing support for same-sex marriage among the public and amid a wave of Democratic senators endorsing equal rights for gay couples. 

On Monday, Sen. Tim Johnson became the latest to announce his support for same-sex marriage, leaving just three Democrats in the Senate who are still opposed to gay marriage: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.).

But GOP lawmakers have been more reluctant to shift their stance. 

Gay rights advocates are hopeful that the growing public support will usher in the striking down of prohibitions on same-sex marriage. 

The Supreme Court last month also held hearings on cases challenging California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA, which denies benefits to same-sex couples.

But Santorum predicted the court would be reluctant to issue a broad ruling endorsing gay rights.

“I think you’ll see, hopefully, a chastened Supreme Court is not going to make the same mistake in the cases as they did in Roe v. Wade,” he said, referencing the landmark ruling legalizing abortion. 

“I’m hopeful the Supreme Court learned its lesson about trying to predict where the American public is going on issues and trying to find rights in the Constitution that sit with the fancy of the day,” he added.

Santorum, who won the 2012 Iowa caucuses narrowly over eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney will speak at a fundraiser for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition next week.

But Santorum said he had not made “any decisions” about whether he would run again.

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