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Is Rick Santorum’s Anti-LGBT Campaign Rhetoric Sustainable?

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Wednesday Jan 4, 2012

Is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum the next comeback kid?

The mere mention of Santorum's name reignites scorn, outrage and ridicule among LGBT activists and operatives-just Google his name! His second place finish in the Iowa Republican solidified his status as a serious candidate, but the question remains: Can he continue this momentum beyond the Hawkeye State?

Santorum's continued opposition to marriage for same-sex couples on the Iowa campaign trail certainly delivered dividends.

"People are allowed to live a lot of different people and a lot of different relationships and we honor those relationships, but we don't call them marriage and we don't treat them like marriage because marriage is a unique institution," he told Fox News' Shepard Smith in an interview from Boone, Ia., on Monday, Jan. 2. "Children have a right to a mother and a father, to their mother and to their father."

Santorum has also blasted the repeal of the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers and abortion-two issues that certainly resonate with his Evangelical Christian base. Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats' pre-Christmas endorsement also bolstered Santorum's previously languishing campaign.

Does this support even matter?

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll found that 62 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose a bill that would repeal the state's marriage equality law. Eighty-one percent of respondents said marriage equality in the Granite State has not affected their life. And 44 percent of New Hampshire voters said they are actually more likely to vote against a candidate who supports the bill.

A poll of Christians that the Human Rights Campaign conducted with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that 52 percent of respondents oppose the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A Suffolk University poll found only six percent of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters support Santorum.

A combination of blue collar economics and social conservatism certainly paid off for Santorum in Iowa. It will take far more than homophobia and anti-LGBT rhetoric, however, to make the Pennsylvanian a viable candidate beyond the Hawkeye State and the 30,007 caucusgoers who supported him.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.


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