Republican presidential hopefuls responded Thursday to comments made by their Democratic counterparts with their take on a homosexual-themed story that was read to children at school.
The book, King & King, is about a prince who searches for a princess bride but ends up marrying another prince instead. Two sets of parents had filed a lawsuit against Joseph Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Mass., and the school district after a teacher read the book to a 2nd grade class. The parents claimed that the book amounted to teaching sex ed without parental consent.
The question raised during Wednesday's Democratic debate in New Hampshire was: "Would you be comfortable having this story read to your children as part of their school curriculum?"
Both Democratic hopefuls John Edwards and Barack Obama said they would want the book read to their children.
"Yes, absolutely," responded Edwards. "What I want is I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that they're faced with every single day of their lives."
The former North Carolina senator admitted, however, that the book's subject matter "might be a little tough" to be read to second graders. He also reaffirmed his position that he personally "is not in favor of same-sex marriage," but added that he didn't want to impose his view since "nobody made me God."
Obama said he was comfortable with having the book read to his children.
"[T]he fact is, my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old, I think, are already aware that there are same-sex couples," said the Illinois senator. "And my wife and I have talked about it. And one of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different, and because there have been times in our history where I was considered different, or Bill Richardson was considered different."
Clinton, on the other hand, did not directly answer the question but suggested in her response that the issue should be handled by parents.
"With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion," said the New York senator and former first lady. "I think that obviously it is better to try to work with your children, to help your children to understand the many differences that are in the world and to really respect other people and the choices that other people make, and that goes far beyond sexual orientation."
She also added that the "issue of gays and lesbians and their rights will remain an important one in our country."
Following Wednesday's responses, Republican presidential candidates offered their take on the issue.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney issued a statement Thursday saying that the Democratic presidential candidates were "out of touch" with the American people.
"Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade," said Romney, who has vocalized his opposition to same-sex "marriage." "This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers."
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani echoed Romney's sentiment. He "believes this is something that should be left to parents to handle," according to spokeswoman Maria Comella.
Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain disagreed with the book being taught at all in public schools.
"While I don't believe that any group should experience discrimination, I also don't believe that public schools should enter into this sort of instruction," he said in a statement.
Last year, a judge dropped the lawsuit brought by the parents in Lexington, Mass.
In North Carolina, a committee in New Hanover County restricted access to King & King after parents objected to having the book available in the school library at Freeman Elementary School. Children must now receive parental consent to view the book.