A few days after Barack Obama became the first US president to approve gay and lesbian marriage, Romney told university graduates that the “pre-eminence of the family” remains at the heart of the principles that underpin the nation.
“As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate,” the Republican nominee told the class of 2012 at Liberty University, the biggest Christian campus in the US.
“So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman,” he said, raising a loud cheer from the 20,000-strong crowd.
Romney, who did not directly refer to gays or lesbians, previously voiced opposition to gay marriage, although he has also stated same-sex couples should have some rights such as child adoption.
But yesterday’s speech, with which the Republican hopeful sought to set himself apart from Obama in the run up to November’s election was his unbowed rebuttal in a week dominated by the president’s landmark endorsement of gay marriage.
Virginia is a key battleground in November’s presidential election.
US First Lady Michelle Obama preempted Romney by delivering her own commencement speech at Virginia Tech university, about 145km from Lynchburg.