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Analysis: Did Rick Santorum Equate Homosexuality to Bestiality?

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  • Rick Santorum
    (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
    Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 6, 2012. The New Hampshire Republican presidential primary election is on January 10.
  • Santorum
    (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
    Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum signs a campaign poster which reads "The Courage to Fight for America" during a campaign stop at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club in South Carolina January 12, 2012. The South Carolina Primary will be held on January 21.
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By Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter
January 12, 2012|5:54 pm

Now that Rick Santorum has become one of the top-tier candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, some media outlets have reported on a controversial 2003 interview in which some claim he equated homosexuality to bestiality. The quote, however, was taken out of context. The reporter who conducted the interview has also been criticized for lacking professionalism and objectivity in the interview.

In the April 7, 2003 interview with Associated Press reporter Lara Jakes Jordan, Santorum, who was representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate at the time, was defending the traditional definition of marriage.

In the part of the interview that is the source of the controversy, Santorum says, “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.”

When the statement is put into the context of the whole interview, Santorum's point becomes clearer. But, even looking at the statement by itself, Santorum is not saying there is a moral equivalence between homosexuality and bestiality or statutory rape (consensual sex with a minor). He is arguing that marriage, traditionally defined, is one thing (a union of one man with one woman), not these other things. In fact, he makes a point of clarifying, “that's not to pick on homosexuality.”

If one were to say, for instance, “a chair is not a cup. That's not to pick on cups. Doors and tables are not chairs either,” no one would suggest that the statement is arguing that tables and doors are the same as cups. The statement is simply making the point that cups, doors and tables are three examples of things that are not chairs.

Santorum’s comments become even clearer when looking at events occurring around the time when the AP interview was conducted. The interview was done after the Supreme Court heard arguments in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which challenged a Texas state law making sodomy illegal. (The Court would render its decision saying that the Texas law was unconstitutional violation of the right to privacy after the interview.) Also, sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church were in the news at the time. Both of these topics were asked about in the interview.

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Santorum argued that the sex abuse scandals involving priests and young boys were unsurprising given society's belief in a right to privacy for consensual sexual relations.

“In this case, what we're talking about, basically, is priests who were having sexual relations with post-pubescent men. We're not talking about priests with 3-year-olds, or 5-year-olds. We're talking about a basic homosexual relationship. Which, again, according to the world view sense is a perfectly fine relationship as long as it's consensual between people. If you view the world that way, and you say that's fine, you would assume that you would see more of it.”

Jordan then asked Santorum if the solution is to make homosexuality illegal. Santorum answered that he does not have a problem with someone being homosexual, but with homosexual acts.

Santorum also made a reference to the Lawrence case and said, “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 the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.”

When Jordan wrote the article, she added “(gay)” so that it read, “... you have the right to consensual (gay) sex ... .” The rest of the quote shows, however, that Santorum meant exactly what he said, “consensual sex,” not “consensual gay sex,” because he names other types of consensual sex that would be legal if all consensual sex were legal – bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery. In the context of the interview, he would add statutory rape (such as the priest sex abuse scandal) and bestiality to the list.

Though controversial, Santorum's position was not unusual. In fact, he was reiterating the position of the Supreme Court at the time.

Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) stated that the right to privacy did not extend to homosexual acts. The Lawrence decision would overturn Bowers.

In his majority opinion for Bowers, Justice Byron White wrote that if the defense’s argument “is limited to the voluntary sexual conduct between consenting adults, it would be difficult, except by fiat, to limit the claimed right to homosexual conduct while leaving exposed to prosecution adultery, incest, and other sexual crimes even though they are committed in the home. We are unwilling to start down that road.”

Santorum was making the same argument that Justice White made in Bowers. Namely, if the court found a constitutional right to sodomy, there would be no legal basis upon which a state could criminalize other types of consensual sex, such as statutory rape, bigamy, polygamy, adultery, incest and bestiality.

After the interview, some conservative publications accused Jordan of failing to report the interview objectively. They noted that her husband, Jim Jordan, had worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and was at the time campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry, who was running for president at the time.

After the interview, Kerry called Santorum's comments “divisive and hurtful” with “no place in our politics.”

The extent to which her husband's political activism influenced Jordan's reporting is unclear, but the transcript does, at least, reveal a lack of professionalism from Jordan.

Her question on whether homosexuality should be legal was asked this way: “OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?”

And, after Santorum's “man on dog” reference to bestiality, Jordan remarked, “I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about 'man on dog' with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.”

There was no attempt on Jordan's part to clear up any confusion she may have had about Santorum's answers so that she could accurately report those answers to her readers. Instead, she claimed that Santorum conveyed a message that was clearly not his intent to convey.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com
 

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