SAWYER: If I could come back to the living room question again, Governor Romney, would you weigh in on the Yahoo question about what you would say sitting down in your living room to a gay couple who say, "We simply want to have the right to," as the -- as the person who wrote the e-mail said -- "we want gay people to form loving, committed, long-term relations." In human terms, what would you say to them?
ROMNEY: Well, the answer is, is that's a wonderful thing to do, and that there's every right for people in this country to form long- term committed relationships with one another. That doesn't mean that they have to call it marriage or they have to receive the -- the approval of the state and a marriage license and so forth for that to occur.
There can be domestic partnership benefits or -- or a contractual relationship between two people, which would include, as -- as Speaker Gingrich indicated, hospital visitation rights and the like. We can decide what kinds of benefits we might associate with people who form those kind of relationships, state by state.
But -- but to say that -- that marriage is something other than the relationship between a man -- a man and a woman, I think, is a mistake. And the reason for that is not that we want to discriminate against people or to suggest that -- that gay couples are not just as loving and can't also raise children well.
But it's instead a recognition that, for society as a whole, that the nation presumably will -- would be better off if -- if children are raised in a setting where there's a male and a female. And there are many cases where there's not possible: divorce, death, single parents, gay parents, and so forth. But -- but for a society to say we want to encourage, through the benefits that we associate with marriage, people to form partnerships between men and women and then raise children, which we think will -- that will be the ideal setting for them to be raised.
The slightly muddled answer is interesting, considering Romney's mixed messages on gay adoption. In 2006, Romney said same sex-couples have "a legitimate interest'' in adopting children. Since then, he has suggested he opposes gay adoption and that it should be decided by individual states.
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