Gingrich Defends Marriage As 'Core' of Civilization, Says Bigotry Question 'Goes Both Ways'

By Susan Jones | January 9, 2012 | 11:05 AM EST

Republican presidential candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a town hall meeting, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Littleton, N.H. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

( - What about homosexuals who want to form "loving, committed, long-term relationships," the Republican candidates were asked at Saturday's ABC News/Yahoo debate in New Hampshire:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich staunchly defended traditional marriage, describing the union of one man and one woman as the "core of our civilization,"  and an institution that is worth "protecting and upholding."

"And I think protecting and upholding -- that doesn't mean you have to go out and make life miserable for others, but it does mean you make a distinction between a historic sacrament of enormous importance in our civilization and simply deciding it applies everywhere and it's just a civil right. It's not. It is a part of how we define ourselves. And I think that a marriage between a man and a woman is part of that definition."

Gingrich said it should be possible to "designate" certain aspects of intimate relationships, such as hospital visitation and naming someone in one's will: "But it is a huge jump from being understanding and considerate and concerned, which we should be, to saying we therefore are going to institute the sacrament of marriage as though it has no basis.

"The sacrament of marriage was based on a man and woman, has been for 3,000 years -- is at the core of our civilization. And it's something worth protecting and upholding."

Gingrich also raised the issue of bias in the news media. While homosexual activists blast discrimination against them, what about anti-Christian bigotry?

"You don't hear the opposite question asked," Gingrich said.

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"Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won't accept gay couples, which is exactly what the state has done? Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won't give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?

"The bigotry question goes both ways. And there's a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. And none of it gets covered by the news media." 

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said Gingrich is "absolutely right" about the problems that arise when marriage is redefined:

"[W]e have to recognize that -- that this decision about what we call marriage has consequence which goes far beyond a loving couple wanting to form a long-term relationship. That they can do within the law now. Calling it a marriage creates a whole host of problems for -- for families, for the law, for -- for -- for the practice of -- of religion, for education. Let me -- let me say this, 3,000 years of human history shouldn't be discarded so quickly."

On Sunday, in a debate hosted by NBC, Romney said he doesn't discriminate against homosexuals, and he noted that when he served as Massachusetts governor, a member of his cabinet was gay.

"I appointed people to the bench, regardless of their sexual orientation -- made it very clear that, in my view, we should not discriminate in hiring policies, in legal policies.

"At the same time, from the very beginning, in 1994, I said to the gay community, 'I do not favor same-sex marriage.' I oppose same-sex marriage.  And that has been my view.  But-- but if-- if people are looking for someone who will discriminate against gays or will in any way-- try and suggest that people-- that-- that have different sexual orientation don't have full rights in this country, they won't find that in me."

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