posted 16 March 2012, updated 16 March 2012
Me: Hello, sir. I'd like to ask a fundamental question about your beliefs.
Rick: Uh, sure.
Me: I'm gay, and I'd like to get married someday. Can you tell me why you don't think that should happen?
Rick: Well, first I'd like to say that I don't discriminate against gay people. I believe they should be treated equally under the law. What I don't believe is that people should be able to change the definition of marriage, a sacred institution that has stood for thousands of years.
Me: But why shouldn't we change the definition? We changed the definition in 1967, when we said that a marriage between people of different races was okay.
Rick: That wasn't changing the definition. The Bible doesn't say anything about people of different races. What it does say is that marriage is between a man and a woman, and it has been for thousands of years.
Me: But allowing gay marriage doesn't stop straight marriages. A marriage will still be between a man and a woman, just also between two men or two women. How does changing the definition harm that?
Rick: It's not a matter of whether or not changing the definition harms anybody. Marriage is what marriage is. You can't change religion by passing a law, that tramples on religious freedoms.
Me: But marriage isn't just a religious ceremony, it's also a legal one. Is the word the problem? Would it be acceptable to give gay people Civil Unions, with all the rights of marriage but without the religious connotations?
Rick: No, I'm against that. I believe if people want those rights they can get them by forming contracts under existing contract law.
Me: But what about rights that can't be obtained by private contracts, like immigration rights, tax exemptions on inheriting property, and not being forced to testify against your spouse in court?
Rick: I believe there's something bigger at stake here. I think in the interests of children, in the interests of families, and in the interest of society, marriage should be defined as being between one man and one woman.
Me: Can you explain to me how children or society are harmed by allowing gay marriages?
Rick: The central purpose of marriage is procreation, to create children for the next generation. As we get further away from that ideal, children suffer and cultures die.
Me: Can you explain how the existence of gay couples who can't biologically have children is different from opposite-sex couples who can't? How do either of those relationships harm children?
Rick: Men and women who want to have children together should have privileged status over people who want to have a relationship together. By saying other types of relationships are okay -- I think we are harming children.
Me: Doesn't that imply you think gay relationships are not okay? That seems at odds with your statement that you don't discriminate against gay people.
Rick: I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with other acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual. I have absolutely nothing against anyone who's homosexual. If that's their orientation, then I accept that. The question is, do you act upon that orientation?
Me: So are gay relationships okay as long as they don't have sex? Isn't that at odds with equality under the law?
Rick: We have sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.
Me: I think I get it.
This hypothetical conversation never happened; Mr. Santorum's answers are an amalgamation of his public statements on gay marriage and civil unions, and most of the replies are quotes from similar contexts. Sources: